While cannabis may be risky for heart patients, evidence has also found that those who use it are less likely to experience sudden kidney failure.
That’s at least according to two new studies presented recently at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. One study found that patients who smoked marijuana and underwent angioplasty to clear blocked arteries were more likely to experience stroke and bleeding after the nonsurgical procedure than those who didn’t use pot.
The second study found that patients who had survived a heart attack and used marijuana were more likely than those who did not use cannabis to have a subsequent heart attack. Those who used marijuana had a higher rate of subsequent heart attacks than those who don’t use cannabis, or 7.2 percent vs. 4.5 percent.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year approximately 805,000 Americans have a heart attack.
Both studies were released Monday.
“Marijuana is becoming more accessible, and patients should be aware of the increased risk after [angioplasty],” said the lead author of the study, Dr. Sang Gune Yoo. Yoo is an internal medicine resident at the University of Michigan. “While these are risks to be aware of, they shouldn’t deter patients from obtaining this lifesaving procedure.”
“I have spent the last 25 years studying the effects of marijuana and THC [the psychoactive component in cannabis], and I think the Yoo study raises some important questions, especially since we’ve seen more and more reports of cardiovascular events occurring in the context of marijuana,” said Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. “This is an interesting paper.”
Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a cannabis expert, instructor at Harvard Medical School and board member of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation has noted the lower rate of kidney failure among those who used marijuana in the Yoo study.
“By their measures, they’ve actually shown that cannabis decreases kidney damage, which should be a huge headline in itself,” he said.