In an unpublished study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting in Anaheim, California, held this month, researchers found a possible link between cannabis use and decreased risk for arterial fibrillation in patients with heart failure.
Additionally, death rates for cannabis-using hospitalized heart failure patients were lower than for those who did not use cannabis, said LiveScience.com.
Researchers did not recommend cannabis use and said that further research on the effects of cannabis use on patients with heart disease is needed. Lead study author Dr. Oluwole Adegbala said the results of the study were surprising because researchers hypothesized the opposite conclusion, or that cannabis use would result in greater risks for heart failure patients.
Researchers analyzed patient database information for six million heart failure patients hospitalized between 2007 and 2014. Of those six million, little more than 24,000 patients admitted marijuana use, with 1,200 of those reporting chronic use of cannabis.
Study results showed that occasional cannabis users were 18 percent were less likely to experience arterial fibrillation, and the same was true for 31 percent of patients that used cannabis regularly.
The study found also that 46 percent of nondependent cannabis-using heart failure patients were less likely to die in the hospital, while among those patients that used cannabis regularly, 58 percent were less likely to die while hospitalized.
Dr. Adegbala theorized that cannabinoids in marijuana may help alleviate inflammation, an important risk factor for arterial fibrillation, but said that more research was needed. By analyzing only data, researchers were unable to say whether other factors, like cigarette smoking, diet, among others, may have also affected patient outcomes.
Dr Adegbala is a resident doctor at New Jersey’s Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.