Medical marijuana is currently legal in 33 states and counting. Mississippi is among the states set to vote on legalizing medical marijuana in the next election. Multiple studies have shown medical marijuana to be beneficial in treating epileptic seizures, PTSD, and opiate addiction. Many cancer patients in legal states use it to treat side effects of cancer therapies. But like any drug, medical marijuana is not without risks.
Studies on the short-term and long-term risks of using medical marijuana are limited due to the drug’s current federal status as an illegal illicit drug. However, medical researchers are still finding ways to conduct studies so both the medical community and the public are well informed about both the benefits and risks of using marijuana. The most recent studies indicate possible risks for people who use medical marijuana while taking heart medications.
A review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology urges the nearly 2 million heart patients in the U.S. who have admitted to using marijuana to use caution when using the drug or to stop using it altogether. One of the reasons? New studies indicate marijuana can interfere with the potency and change the effectiveness of heart medications including statins and blood thinners.
The effect marijuana appears to have on these medications might be surprising to some. Rather than decrease the effectiveness of these drugs, medical marijuana appears to increase the levels of Warfarin, a blood thinner, in the body, which greatly increases the patient’s risk of excessive bleeding.
The review also indicated possible links between marijuana use and other heart problems, including increased risks of a heart attack before age 50. However, some of these risks are linked with smoking marijuana and even fewer studies have been performed on the effects of using marijuana in non-inhalant ways, such as edibles.
If you are using marijuana or plan to use medical marijuana if it is legalized here, EliteCare urges you to be honest with your medical provider about your use, especially if you suffer from a heart condition or other problems that put you at a greater risk for a heart attack or stroke. We also urge you to stop the use of the drug if you fall into these categories, at least until more is known about the risks of medical marijuana.
Though we do encourage the disuse of the drug, we also want you to feel safe and comfortable in discussing marijuana use with our providers. If you are concerned about the effects marijuana use has had on your health, particularly if you already have a diagnosed health issue, request a checkup and physical exam with EliteCare. We will get a clear view of your current health status and address any questions or concerns you have about the effects of medical marijuana.