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The choice of CBD products has exploded recently: you can buy oils, capsules, muscle gels, sprays and oral drops, as well as beer, tea, sweets, hummus and even CBD-infused clothing.

However, it also notes that this research is still in the early stages, and that more studies are needed before conclusions can be drawn on whether CBD is effective.

What is CBD, and is it legal in the UK?

Some of this work is still in animals, and much more research is needed before we can definitively say that CBD can help in this area.

Professor Sumnall argues that while it could be effective for some people, in some of these cases the results could be caused by the placebo effect (where the patient’s belief in a treatment makes them feel better). The placebo effect can be powerful, but Professor Sumnall warns that if people try CBD oil instead of speaking to their doctor, it could cause a problem.

“In terms of the products found in shops, there’s virtually no evidence to support the claims made for a lot of them.” Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at Liverpool John Moores University

He said although cannabis is generally safe, it does have side-effects, which have been largely overlooked as Canada moves to legalize its recreational use.

Schecter noted that it's the THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, in cannabis that produces both the high associated with marijuana and the negative side-effects.

Cannabis can have troublesome effects on people with unstable heart conditions, says physician

"Cannabis activists have almost taken over the conversation around cannabis, and their message is that cannabis is a harmless drug, it's never killed anyone in the 5,000 years people have been using it."

Schecter is the co-founder of the Cannabinoid Medical Clinic, which has 20 Canabo Medical Clinic locations across Canada, including one in Halifax.

"And that means that people who are using cannabis with unstable heart diseases, such as unstable angina or at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, should really use cannabis with caution."

The researchers compared deaths between the two groups after adjusting for factors that could influence the relationship including age, sex, race, income, diabetes, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, obesity, and hospital location. Cannabis users with an arrhythmia had a 4.5 times higher odds of in-hospital mortality compared to those without an arrhythmia. Patients with an arrhythmia had a longer length of hospital stay (5.7 days) compared to those without (5.1 days).

EHRA 2021 is the online annual congress of the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Notes to editor

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Dr. Thangjui said: “Our study highlights that heart rhythm disorders may be a warning sign for an increased risk of death in people who use cannabis. More studies are needed to confirm our results. In the meantime, it seems sensible to screen these patients for arrhythmias if they present to hospital so that those with a heart rhythm problem can be closely monitored.”

1 Abstract title: Burden of arrhythmia in hospitalized patients with cannabis use related disorders: analysis of 2016-2018 national inpatient sample.