Medical cannabis (also called therapeutic) is used more and more around the world to relieve patients, especially in cases of chronic pain. But this use could expose patients to serious cardiovascular risks.
In some countries medical cannabis is legalized, in others, it is banned, tested, or tolerated. In any case, on a planetary scale, its prescription is constantly increasing. Lack of appetite, nausea, sleep disorders, and especially pain: a series of studies have shown a beneficial effect in certain categories of patients, in particular those suffering from cancer.
An increased risk heart attack and stroke
At this stage, however, explains this Canadian team (under the coordination of Laval University ), the safety profile of medical cannabis is not well known. The data provided here calls for the greatest vigilance. The researchers calculated the proportion of emergency room admissions and hospitalizations (province of Ontario) due to cardio (infarction, etc.) or cerebrovascular (stroke, etc.) events between two groups: some 19,000 patients who had used medical cannabis, and around 50,000 people with comparable profiles (socio-demography, lifestyle, health indicators, etc.), but not cannabis users. They found that:
- The incidence of serious cardiovascular events reached 7.19 per 1000 people in the cannabis group and 5.67 per 1000 in the control group, i.e. an increase in risk of around 44%.
- The incidence of all cardiovascular events, regardless of their severity, is 28.4 per 1000 in the cannabis group and 19 in the control group, a 47% increase in risk.
A call for caution
“This study does not establish a cause and effect link between medical cannabis and cardiovascular problems, but it calls for caution. Especially since there is still no scientific demonstration of the effectiveness of medical cannabis for the vast majority of conditions for which it is used. It is important that physicians carefully assess the expected benefits and the risks incurred before prescribing it to their patients,” comments the main author of the study.
The researchers added that it would in fact be “risky” to admit its use in the event of cardiac problems, and it is at the very least a question of ensuring a very close follow-up of these patients.
It is also necessary to be cautious of preparations sold on the Internet and to absolutely avoid self-prescription.