According to findings presented Sunday at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions virtual conference, a growing number of people under the age of 50 diagnosed with a cannabis use disorder were later hospitalized for a heart attack.
The upward trend from 2007 to 2018 was most pronounced in three groups: 18-34, male, and African-American.
Growing trend for legalization?
The study analyzed the medical records of 819,354 people from a large public database of hospital stays. They identified people ages 18 to 49 who had been hospitalized for a heart attack and whose records showed a previous diagnosis of cannabis use disorder . This is defined as chronic and excessive use of marijuana with symptoms of dependence, an inability to control the use, and impaired social functioning.
The new analysis found that overall, 4.1% of hospitalized heart attack patients also had a cannabis use disorder, and the proportion nearly tripled from 2.4% in 2007 to 6.7% in 2018 . When the researchers divided the data into subgroups, they found the largest increases during the decade between:
- People aged 18 to 34, from 7.3% in 2007 to 20.2% in 2018
- African Americans, 15.8% in 2007 to 35.2% in 2018
- Men, 71.6% in 2007 to 78.1% in 2018
Marijuana use has increased in the United States, particularly among 18-25-year-olds, as legalization for medical and recreational use advances. But researchers haven’t determined whether that has led to an increase in cannabis use disorder.
A 2019 study published in JAMA Psychiatry showed that the disorder increased slightly among youth ages 12 to 17 and people 26 and older from 2008 to 2016. Another 2016 JAMA Psychiatry study found that while use increased , the trend lines for the disorder were flat.