UCI Health will see you now: Welcome to our new co-workers and patients from Fountain Valley, Lakewood, Los Alamitos and Placentia-Linda! 

Increasing popularity of cannabis complicates patient care

UCI Health expert cites unique risks in the surgical setting

February 16, 2024

IN THE NEWS: Cannabis is more accessible and popular than ever.

american college of physician acp hospitalist logo ACP letters with graphic of lit oil lampAs more states legalize its use, UCI Health anesthesiologist and pain management expert Dr. Shalini Shah notes that it carries risks for patients in the perioperative setting. She spoke to ACP Hospitalist about the problem.

"The risk of a heart attack after someone uses cannabis is five times higher if they have smoked it in the last hour prior to a stressor such as surgery."

Certain conditions, such as underlying heart disease, will increase that perioperative risk even further, Shah added.

"This is why it's so important to ask patients if they have used cannabis."

Shah is a board-certified and fellowship-trained physician who specializes in the management and treatment of adult and pediatric pain. She is also a professor and vice chair of Pain Management in the Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care at the UCI School of Medicine

Her expertise is in chronic pain disorders in children, specifically in oncologic pain, head and neck pain, abdominal pain, scoliosis and spasticity disorders. Shah is also a coauthor of the American Society of Regional Anesthesia Pain Medicine's consensus guidelines on the management of perioperative patients on cannabis and cannabinoids.

Read more