Researchers say they’ve found evidence that cannabis may benefit people with heart failure.
They’re quick to emphasize, however, that this research shouldn’t be taken as a recommendation (at least not yet) that heart failure patients take up cannabis use.
Researchers at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey found that heart failure patients who used cannabis were less likely to experience a dangerous complication known as atrial fibrillation – or A-fib. A-fib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, and other heart-related complications.
Heart failure patients who used cannabis were also less likely to die in hospital, the researchers discovered.
Given that previous studies have found cannabis could have negative effects on heart health, the researchers were surprised by these findings.
"I was very surprised that it was actually a reduced association I found," said lead author Dr. Oluwole Adegbala.
To reach their conclusion, Adegbala and his research team analyzed data from more than six million patients admitted to hospital with heart failure between 2007 and 2014. Of these patients, roughly 1,200 had dependent relationships with cannabis and about 23,000 used cannabis but were not dependent on it.
Nondependent cannabis users were 18 percent less likely, and dependent cannabis users 31 percent less likely, to develop A-fib compared to patients who didn’t use cannabis.
Moreover, nondependent cannabis users were 46 percent less likely, and dependent cannabis users 58 percent less likely, to die in hospital compared to patients who didn’t use cannabis.
Adegbala said it remains unclear how cannabis may lead to a reduced risk of A-fib and mortality among heart failure patients. That said, she added that studies in animals suggest the activation of cannabinoid receptors may reduce high blood pressure and atherosclerosis – both risk factors for A-fib.
Adegbala pointed to some studies that have shown that cannabidiol may reduce inflammation in the body, which is also a risk factor for A-fib.
Adegbala says more research is needed to confirm their findings before any kind of recommendation regarding heart failure patients and cannabis use can be ventured.
h/t Live Science