Cannabis strongly linked to death risk in high blood pressure

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A recent study from Georgia State University found that marijuana use is linked to a three-fold risk of death from high blood pressure.

They examined participants aged 20 years and above. In 2005-2006, participants were asked if they had ever used marijuana. Those who answered “yes” were considered marijuana users.

Participants reported the age when they first tried marijuana and this was subtracted from their current age to calculate the duration of use.

Information on marijuana use was merged with mortality data in 2011 from the National Centre for Health Statistics.

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. The team found 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 hypertension and a 1.04 greater risk for each year of use.

These results suggest a possible risk of hypertension mortality from marijuana use. This is not surprising since marijuana is known to have a number of effects on the cardiovascular system.

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 researchers stated that the heart risk associated with marijuana use may be greater than the cardiovascular risk already established for cigarette smoking.

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The research was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology and conducted by Barbara A Yankey et al.

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