Marijuana increases risk of death from hypertension

A new study says people who smoke marijuana are three times as likely to die from hypertension, or high blood pressure, than non-users of the drug.

"Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health", said Barbara Yankey, who co-led the research at the school of public health at Georgia State University in the United States.

Researchers enrolled 1,213 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants aged at least 20 years in a retrospective study who answered "yes" or "no" questions on the recreational use of marijuana. In 2005, participants were asked if they ever used marijuana, and if they had, how old they were when they started.

The National Centre for Health Statistics information on marijuana use was merged with mortality data in 2011.

The European journal of preventive cardiology reports on the dangers of marijuana; they said it may be worse for the heart than smoking cigarettes. For each year of marijuana use, the risk of death from hypertension increased by 1.04 times.

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Ms Yankey said: 'Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen demand. "Emergency rooms have reported cases of angina and heart attacks after marijuana use". "However, there is little research on the impact of marijuana use on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality".

Marijuana use may triple your risk of dying from high blood pressure, a new study suggests. The researchers acknowledged "the number of smokers in our study was small and this needs to be examined in a larger study".

But the study is not without its limitations - as researchers were unable to determine if participants had used the drug continuously since first trying it. "Based upon the findings of prior studies, the 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".

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. There was no association between marijuana use and death from heart disease or cerebrovascular disease. The data also showed that the risk increases with every year of use.

  • Myrtle Hill