Arrhythmic Effects of Cannabis in Ischemic Heart Disease

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2022 Mar 29. doi: 10.1089/can.2021.0188. Online ahead of print.


Rationale: Cannabis use is increasing worldwide, especially among older individuals at risk for chronic ischemic heart disease (IHD). However, little is known about the arrhythmic effects of cannabis use in IHD. Accordingly, we prospectively assessed the relationship between cannabis use, heart rate (HR), and arrhythmias in healthy age-matched controls and subjects with IHD. Methods: Healthy controls (n=37, 57% men) and subjects with IHD (myocardial infarction ≥3 months ago; n=24, 58% men) who used cannabis wore a Zio® (iRhythm Technologies) monitor for 14 days. Noncannabis using ischemic subjects (n=35, 51% males) wore Zio monitors for standard clinical indications. Baseline HR was compared with average HR measured for 4 h following consumption and changes in HR and frequency of arrhythmias were correlated with cannabis use. Results: In controls, HR increased 20 min (4.99±6.7 bpm, p=0.08) after use, then declined 4 h following use (-7.4±7.7, p<0.001). Conversely, subjects with IHD showed minimal HR increase (1.6±3.9 bpm) and blunted HR decline (-3.4±5.6 bpm, p<0.001). Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) (29.7% vs. 58.3%; p=0.04) and nonsustained ventricular tachycardia (NSVT) (5.6% vs. 47.8%, p=0.01) were the most frequently occurring arrhythmias in controls and IHD subjects, respectively. Incidence of SVT decreased as cannabis use increased in both groups. Conversely, NSVT tended to increase with increased use in controls, and was significantly more prevalent in IHD. However, overall arrhythmia burden did not differ between cannabis users and nonusers with IHD. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that chronic cannabis use is associated with only mild HR changes, which are blunted in IHD. In addition, our data suggest that among cannabis users, arrhythmias are more frequent in IHD subjects that in healthy subjects.

Keywords: arrhythmia; cannabis; heart rate; ischemic heart disease.