Marijuana smokers have greater risk of death from high blood pressure

Credit iStock

Credit iStock

"We found higher estimated cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use than cigarette smoking", lead author Barbara Yankey, a PhD student in the school of public health at Georgia State University, said in a statement. In 2005, participants were asked if they ever used marijuana, and if they had, how old they were when they started. Whereas the participants who reported the age when they first tried marijuana was subtracted from their current age to calculate the duration of use.

After working out an approximate estimate of how long the participants had been consuming marijuana, scientists then combined it with mortality data from 2011 - and were able to estimate that smokers were up to three times more likely to die from high blood pressure. 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. Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, [BP] and oxygen demand. "Emergency rooms have reported cases of angina and heart attacks after marijuana use", Yankey pointed out. "Needless to say, the detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking".

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"We found no association between cannabis and cardiovascular risks [e.g., high blood pressure, higher cholesterol], which may appear at odds with evidence that cannabis use increases risk for cardiovascular complications", the authors wrote. But, this needs examination in a larger research, as the number of smokers in this study was only few. "You would think that the marijuana if it was working on the vascular system to cause some damage, it should cause stroke, it should cause heart disease; it shouldn't [only] cause hypertension", he commented. Marijuana "experts" not involved in the study said the results should be replicated in other studies. On average, participants who used marijuana did so for 11.5 years.

The risk increases by more than one time for every year of cannabis use. We conducted Cox proportional hazards regression analyses to estimate hazard ratios for hypertension, heart disease, and cerebrovascular mortality due to marijuana use.

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Armentano also argued that this new study's results are also jeopardized because of the ambiguous definition of "marijuana user".

Another study published earlier this year, found no connection between cardiovascular health and cannabis.

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