Cannabis for chronic pain: cardiovascular safety in a nationwide Danish study

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Background and Aims
A rising number of countries allow physicians to treat chronic pain with medical cannabis. However, recreational cannabis use has been linked with cardiovascular side effects, necessitating investigations concerning the safety of prescribed medical cannabis.

Using nationwide Danish registers, patients with chronic pain initiating first-time treatment with medical cannabis during 2018–21 were identified and matched 1:5 to corresponding control patients on age, sex, chronic pain diagnosis, and concomitant use of other pain medication. The absolute risks of first-time arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation/flutter, conduction disorders, paroxysmal tachycardias, and ventricular arrhythmias) and acute coronary syndrome were reported comparing medical cannabis use with no use.

Among 1.88 million patients with chronic pain (46% musculoskeletal, 11% cancer, 13% neurological, and 30% unspecified pain), 5391 patients claimed a prescription of medical cannabis [63.2% women, median age: 59 (inter-quartile range 48–70) years] and were compared with 26 941 control patients of equal sex- and age composition. Arrhythmia was observed in 42 and 107 individuals, respectively, within 180 days. Medical cannabis use was associated with an elevated risk of new-onset arrhythmia {180-day absolute risk: 0.8% [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.6%–1.1%]} compared with no use [180-day absolute risk: 0.4% (95% CI 0.3%–0.5%)]: a risk ratio of 2.07 (95% CI 1.34–2.80) and a 1-year risk ratio of 1.36 (95% CI 1.00–1.73). No significant association was found for acute coronary syndrome [180-day risk ratio: 1.20 (95% CI 0.35–2.04)].

In patients with chronic pain, the use of prescribed medical cannabis was associated with an elevated risk of new-onset arrhythmia compared with no use—most pronounced in the 180 days following the initiation of treatment.
TidsskriftEuropean Heart Journal
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)475-484
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 2024

Bibliografisk note

© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

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