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Cannabis Users More Likely to Develop Peripheral Artery Disease: Study

Marijuana use has increased in recent years with nearly 50 million people reporting using it at least once.

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Findings from a study examining the relationship between marijuana use and peripheral artery disease (PAD) were presented today at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions (SCAI) 2023 Scientific Sessions. Results found marijuana users are at a significantly increased risk of developing PAD, compared to the general population.

Marijuana use has increased in recent years with nearly 50 million people reporting using it at least once (CDC). While many studies have looked at the impact of marijuana use on health, little research has been done to study the effect of marijuana use on the vascular system. PAD, a condition in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the arms or legs, impacts 6.5 million people in the U.S. and can lead to a loss of mobility, reduced quality of life, heart attack, stroke and death, if not treated early.

Researchers used de-identified patient data from the National Inpatient Samples (NIS) from 2016-2019 who reported marijuana use and a diagnosis PAD. Patients were further stratified based on any percutaneous lower extremity vascular intervention. Data was analyzed using SPSS software in a binary logistic regression model, a p value <0.001 was considered statistically significant, and samples were standardized for comparison using predicted probabilities.

Of the 30 million patients identified, 623,768 were diagnosed as marijuana users. Patients had an average age of 37.4 years, equal distribution across genders, were more likely to be white and more likely to be elective admissions. Of these patients, 2,424 (0.38%) were also diagnosed with PAD. Marijuana users were at more than three times the risk of developing PAD but had no statistically significant increased risk for mortality or requiring percutaneous intervention (p<0.001).

“With the increase in marijuana use in the U.S., our findings show that users should be aware of the symptoms of PAD such as leg pain while walking, slower or no hair growth and feelings of coldness in the leg,” said Hirva Vyas, DO, Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ and lead author of the study. “We know PAD is a progressive disease that can drastically impact quality of life, making ongoing monitoring of this patient population critical.”

Authors note that based on study results, vigilant monitoring for disease screening and progression should be initiated earlier in the outpatient setting in addition to cessation counseling.

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