In a recent study, researchers from Georgia State University found that marijuana use is associated with a three-fold risk of death from high blood pressure.
The finding is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
The researchers focused on the long-term effect of marijuana use on health. They examined people aged 20 years and above from the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey).
The team found that among a total of 1 213 participants, 34% used neither marijuana nor cigarettes, 21% used only marijuana, 20% used marijuana and smoked cigarettes, 16% used marijuana and were past-smokers, 5% were past-smokers and 4% only smoked cigarettes.
The average duration of marijuana use was 11.5 years.
Marijuana users had a higher risk of dying from high blood pressure. Compared to non-users, marijuana users had a 3.42-times higher risk of death from the disease and a 1.04 greater risk for each year of use.
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.
The authors suggest that the cardiovascular risk associated with marijuana use may be greater than the cardiovascular risk already established for cigarette smoking.
In another study reported by the American College of Cardiology, researchers find that marijuana use is linked to higher risk of heart failure and stroke.
The study drew data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which includes the health records of patients admitted at more than 1,000 hospitals.
The researchers analyzed data from young and middle-aged patients–age 18-55 years, who were discharged from hospitals in 2009 and 2010 when marijuana use was illegal in most states.
They found that compared to non-users, marijuana users showed a much higher risk for stroke, heart failure, coronary artery disease, and sudden cardiac death.
Marijuana use was also linked to obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, and alcohol use.
After controlled other factors, the team found that marijuana use was independently associated with a 26% increase in the risk of stroke and a 10% increase in the risk of developing heart failure.
In a third study reported by the American Heart Association, researchers found that marijuana use is linked to heart muscle malfunction, stress cardiomyopathy.
Stress cardiomyopathy is a sudden, usually temporary, weakening of the heart muscle that reduces the heart’s ability to pump.
It can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and sometimes fainting. The malfunction mimics heart attack symptoms.
The researchers analyzed data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample.
They identified 33,343 people who were hospitalized with stress cardiomyopathy between 2003 and 2011 in the United States.
Of those, 210 (less than one percent) were also identified as marijuana users.
The team found that marijuana users were almost twice as likely to develop stress cardiomyopathy compared to non-users.
The researchers suggest that anyone who is using marijuana and develops symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
It is important to make sure one doesn’t have stress cardiomyopathy or another heart problem.
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