Marijuana users 3 times more likely to die from hypertension

Friday, 11 Aug, 2017

Researchers studied cannabis users between 2005 and 2011, looking at how long they had used the drug for and their general health.

Yankey and colleagues estimated HRs for hypertension, heart disease and cerebrovascular mortality as a result of marijuana use by conducting Cox proportional hazard regression analyses. They were also asked to report the age in which they first tried using marijuana. This is exactly what a team of investigators at the Georgia State University (GSU) School of Public Health set out to accomplish, reporting their recent study findings in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in an article entitled "Effect of Marijuana Use on Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Mortality: A Study Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Linked Mortality File". The risk of suffering a fatal blood pressure condition also went up by 1.04 times for each year the person had smoked the substance. "This indicates that marijuana use may carry even heavier consequences on the cardiovascular system than that already established for cigarette smoking".

Ms Yankey said: 'Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen demand.

There was no link between marijuana use and dying from heart or cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes.

As more states move toward legalizing marijuana, new research suggests serious cardiovascular risks are associated with the drug.

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She added that "the detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking", and that if people are to make informed decisions about smoking weed, they need to be in possession of the full facts. "If marijuana use is implicated in cardiovascular diseases and deaths, then it rests on the health community and policy makers to protect the public". The average duration of marijuana use was 11.5 years. Still, Yankey said the study should serve as a warning to lawmakers.

Individuals who used marijuana faced a relative-but nonsignificant-increase in risk of 0.4% for each year of use, researchers found.

Dr. Vinay Prasad, associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University and an expert on the design and results of medical studies, found the study's conclusions suspect.

"Based upon the findings of prior studies, the [new study] authors' interpretation with regard to the degree of this risk potential appears to be sensational, and the methods used in this particular study appear to be highly questionable", Armentano said.

Armentano acknowledged that cannabinoids (a class of chemicals found in marijuana, - the most well-known is THC, a psychoactive) do affect blood pressure - a subject that he has written about previously.