People who used marijuana daily were found to be about one-third more likely to develop coronary artery disease (CAD) compared with people who have never used the drug, warned a study.

CAD is the most common form of heart disease and occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed due to a buildup of cholesterol. CAD commonly causes chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue, and can lead to a heart attack.

"We found that cannabis use is linked to CAD, and there seems to be a dose-response relationship in that more frequent cannabis use is associated with a higher risk of CAD," said lead author Ishan Paranjpe, from Stanford University.

"In terms of the public health message, it shows that there are probably certain harms of cannabis use that weren't recognised before, and people should take that into account," he added.

The team included 175,000 people in the study. The results indicated that daily cannabis users were 34 per cent more likely to have CAD than those who have never used marijuana.

In contrast, monthly cannabis use was not associated with a significant increase in the risk of CAD.

Based on these findings, researchers said it is important for people to be aware that cannabis use is not without risk and make sure to inform their doctor if they use cannabis so that clinicians can take appropriate steps to monitor their heart health.

By helping to better understand the molecular pathways involved in marijuana use and heart disease, the findings could open new opportunities for interventions to prevent or treat heart disease.

"From a scientific standpoint, these findings are exciting because they suggest there might be new drug targets and mechanisms we can explore to take control of this pathway going forward," Paranjpe said.

The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session.


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