Cannabis, one of the most common use substances for recreational use, has been gaining steady steam over the last decade. More states are joining in decriminalizing its use, sale, and possession. With decriminalization, many experts believed that there would be a coinciding uptick in hospitalizations and cannabis-related heart failure. They based this assumption on beliefs linking marijuana with congestive heart failure. However, a new study analyzing trends collected from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database suggest otherwise.
Cannabis Hospitalizations Rise
Researchers analyzed the records of patients hospitalized for congestive heart failure (CHF) over a four-year period. They were comparing the health of those using cannabis to that of non-cannabis-using patients. During the course of the study, researchers did find an increasing prevalence of hospitals admitting cannabis users for CHF. But this finding did not necessarily indicate a link between CHF and cannabis use.
Rather, researchers ascribe this increase in CHF to the increased accessibility of cannabis and cannabis products. Cannabis use is becoming more common within the general population. Thus, the increased admission of cannabis users to hospitals for unrelated reasons will naturally increase as well.
Shorter Stays for Cannabis Users
Despite the heightened prevalence of hospitalization for cannabis users with CHF, inpatient deaths among cannabis users were lower than inpatient deaths among non-cannabis users by around 2%. To further emphasize the point, on average, hospitals discharged cannabis users more quickly than non-cannabis using patients, allowing them to return home earlier. This means that they required less intensive care and shorter hospital stays.
According to one recent study, cannabis use contributes to greater in-hospital survival rates for patients with cancer, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, and other intensive traumas. Similarly, some research suggests that cannabis could be used as a therapeutic medicine in the treatment and prevention of conditions like Alzheimer’s, PTSD, alcoholism, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, and more.
Could the answer to heart health lie in marijuana? Without more research, it’s too early to say, but for now, many are happy to hear “a bowl a day could keep the doctor away.”
Featured image commissioned by RS from Kaitlin Sobiesiak.