Marijuana Use Increases Risk for Atrial Fibrillation

A new study has revealed that several illicit drugs can increase your risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib).  These include methamphetamine, cocaine and opioids, but another drug found to increase AFib is cannabis.  Researchers found that cannabis users had a 35 percent higher risk of developing AFib, compared to people with no record of using cannabis. 

This is the first study to examine marijuana use as a predictor of atrial fibrillation risk, and is of particular concern, as marijuana use has been on the rise in adolescents.   A recent study looked at teens in California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine and found a connection between legalized adult use and a surge in marijuana use among teens.

The legalization of recreational marijuana could affect how today’s youth perceive the substance. It is vital, especially now with the additional risk of AFib, to ensure that today’s youth and their families understand the dangers of marijuana use among adolescents.

Studies have shown that marijuana affects teens’ brain development, altering it in ways that could diminish their reasoning, decision-making and memory skills as they age. Brain scans of approximately 800 teenagers found that those who use marijuana tended to have an increased thinning of the cerebral cortex — the outer layer of the brain responsible for thought, perception and language.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey focused on this issue last year with a media campaign raising awareness of the dangers of adolescent marijuana use. If you would like to download any of these prevention messages, please visit PDFNJ’s Awareness Toolkit.  Any of the images are customizable to your organization’s needs.

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