Marijuana use triples risk for hypertensive death

Marijuana use increases the risk of dying from high blood pressure by more than three times

It determined that pot use was more associated with hypertension than cigarette use was. This is not surprising since marijuana is known to have a number of effects on the cardiovascular system.

"Steps are being taken towards legalisation and decriminalisation of marijuana in the USA, and rates of recreational marijuana use may increase substantially as a result", lead author Barbara Yankey, from Georgia State University said in a statement.

Their results were based on a specially designed retrospective study.

The team also looked at mortality data in 2011 from the National Centre for Health Statistics.

After adjustments, marijuana users had an increased risk for death from hypertension (HR = 3.42; 95% CI, 1.2-9.79) compared with nonusers. The researchers estimated the associations of marijuana use, and duration of use, with death from hypertension, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease, controlling for cigarette use and demographic variables including sex, age, and ethnicity.

Marijuana advocates are skeptical of the research.

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.

Amazingly, the authors commented that the cardiovascular risk associated with marijuana use might be greater than the cardiovascular risk already established for cigarette smoking.

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The first, published this year, followed more than 5,000 individuals for 25 years, beginning in the mid-1980s. "However, recreational use of marijuana should be approached with caution".

"Steps are being taken toward legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in the United States, and rates of recreational marijuana use may increase substantially as a result", Yankey said in a press release from the European Society of Cardiology.

Recent studies show that roughly 50 percent of US adults have tried marijuana at least once, but only 12 percent are current consumers of cannabis.

There are obvious limitations to the study, especially the way marijuana use was calculated - it is not certain that participants used the drug continuously since they first tried it. Eleven and a half years was the average duration of marijuana use.

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.

Marijuana is thought to cause psychosis-like experiences by increasing a user's risk of depression, a study found.

Armentano cautioned that, "Potential high-risk populations may wish to refrain from cannabis inhalation because of these concerns".

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