Cannabis Use Disorder Is Associated With Arrhythmia in Adolescents and Young Adults

Smoking cannabis has cardiovascular implications, but the effects have not been well studied. This retrospective analysis of the US Nationwide Inpatient Sample (2012–2014) was conducted for patients aged 15–54 with a primary diagnosis of arrhythmia (N=570,556) to assess the association between arrhythmia hospitalizations and comorbid cannabis use disorders (CUD).

  • Among patients with arrhythmia, 2.6% (n=14,426) had CUD.
  • Atrial fibrillation was the most common form of arrhythmia hospitalization among patients with comorbid arrhythmia and CUD (42% of patients).
  • For adolescents and young adults (age groups 15–24 and 25–34), CUD was associated with an increased risk of arrhythmia (relative risk [RR], 1.3 [ages 15–24] and 1.5 [ages 25–34]) and atrial fibrillation (RR, 1.5 and 1.6)

Comments: Cannabis use is often promoted as safe, natural, and even healthy. The findings of this study call these assumptions into question. Several hypotheses propose a causal mechanism, and more research is needed to explore the link between cannabis use and arrhythmia. There is an urgent need to understand the health impacts of cannabis use given the rapidly changing legal landscape, which has led to new and increasingly potent cannabis products.

Sharon Levy, MD

Reference: Patel RS, Gonzalez MD, Ajibawo T, Baweja R. Cannabis use disorder and increased risk of arrhythmia-related hospitalization in young adults. Am J Addict. 2021;30(6):578–584.

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