Pulse check. Can cannabis help or harm heart health? 

The following commentary is provided by the Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) of Florida A&M University.

STATEWIDE — Heart disease is the primary cause of death in Florida and disproportionately affects the African American community, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its known causes include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and physical inactivity. Individual lifestyle choices play a significant role in prevention, including the use of cannabis.

Dr. Shamarial Roberson and Dr. Kyron Tamar share concerns about cannabis use on heart health, especially when it is smoked or inhaled. Dr. Roberson is an expert in epidemiology and chronic diseases who previously served as Deputy Health Secretary for the Florida Department of Health. Dr. Tamar, a retired surgeon, has treated more than 8,000 patients since becoming a medical marijuana-qualified physician.

While heart disease is not a qualifying condition for medical cannabis treatment in Florida, Dr. Tamar notes that associated conditions like pain and anxiety often qualify.

He references the antioxidant properties in cannabis but said administering cannabis to heart disease patients requires caution, as inhaling it can strain the heart and damage the lungs.

Dr. Roberson emphasizes a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease, including exercise, weight management, tobacco abstinence and a nutritious diet. She said regular screenings are crucial, particularly for those with hypertension or high cholesterol.

Both doctors warn against using unregulated cannabis and CBD, including illicit weed and Delta-8 and Delta-9 gummies. “They don’t know what they’re getting, and it could be very dangerous,” Dr. Roberson stated, referring to people who buy recreational marijuana illegally or those who buy CBD products in convenience stores.

Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPfsrxmK9A4 to watch MMERI’s Conversations on Cannabis Virtual Forum featuring Drs. Shamarial Roberson and Kyron Tamar discuss the impact of cannabis use on heart health.  

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