Exploring the Possible Role of Cannabinoids in Managing Post-cardiac Surgery Complications: A Narrative Review of Preclinical Evidence and a Call for Future Research Directions

J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2024 Jun 1;83(6):537-546. doi: 10.1097/FJC.0000000000001560.


Open-heart surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass often leads to complications including pain, systemic inflammation, and organ damage. Traditionally managed with opioids, these pain relief methods bring potential long-term risks, prompting the exploration of alternative treatments. The legalization of cannabis in various regions has reignited interest in cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, known for their anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties. Historical and ongoing research acknowledges the endocannabinoid system's crucial role in managing physiological processes, suggesting that cannabinoids could offer therapeutic benefits in postsurgical recovery. Specifically, cannabidiol has shown promise in managing pain, moderating immune responses, and mitigating ischemia/reperfusion injury, underscoring its potential in postoperative care. However, the translation of these findings into clinical practice faces challenges, highlighting the need for extensive research to establish effective, safe cannabinoid-based therapies for patients undergoing open-heart surgery. This narrative review advocates for a balanced approach, considering both the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids and the complexities of their integration into clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cannabinoids / adverse effects
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Pain, Postoperative* / drug therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cannabinoids
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents