Are HIV Patients Who Use Cannabis At Greater Risk For Heart Disease? This Cardiologist Was Granted $2.3M To Find Out

Many of those who live with HIV and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are aware of how cannabis can help reduce certain symptoms like headaches and nausea.

While we live in a world where HIV is no longer a death sentence, research on the connection between cannabis and HIV is growing in volume and quality.

The latest push comes from a cardiologist with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine who was granted $2.3 million in funding to study the effects of cannabis on the cardiovascular health of those living with the virus.

Cannabis-Heart and HIV study - dubbed CannHeart for short - from Claudia Martinez, MD, will be supported by the four-year investment. Martinez, an associate professor of clinical medicine, received the Avenir Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“We know that people with HIV have a higher risk of heart disease, but don't know what happens when they use cannabis, which for them is legal to use for medical reasons,” Martinez said in a statement. “So, they are getting the cannabis for health benefits, yet we may be increasing their cardiovascular risk. We don’t know.”

Martinez will study those with the condition who are regular marijuana users and have no heart disease by measuring amounts of THC and CBD in blood and urine samples. The researcher also wants to examine heart risks in the same participants, such as inflammation and changes in heart function or structure seen on an MRI. He will look at whether there is a relation to the amount of cannabis used, including levels of THC and CBD.

Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Beloch on Unsplash

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