Marijuana + High Blood Pressure = Greater Death Risk

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People are increasingly turning to marijuana for medicinal purposes, but recreational use may cause a real medical problem.

"It does not prove that if you choose to use marijuana you are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease", Prasad told The Oregonian. Those who answered "yes" were considered marijuana users.

For Yankey's study, information on marijuana use was merged with mortality data in 2011 from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, and adjusted for confounding factors such as tobacco smoking and variables including sex, age and ethnicity.

Marijuana users had a higher risk of dying from hypertension. The average duration of use was 11.5 years. Yankey said 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", she said.

Yankey said the sample size of her study was too small to capture the associations between pot use and specific heart-related conditions such as stroke.

As more states move toward legalizing marijuana, new research suggests serious cardiovascular risks are associated with the drug.

If use of marijuana has any impact on cardiovascular diseases as well as deaths, then it is the responsibility of the health community and policy makers to protect the public, says Ms. Yankey. He explained that if you come to somebody's home and ask them about marijuana usage, you're not going to get the greatest data, and said that's a limitation.

Some experts also noted that there are hundreds of marijuana strains, all of which could have different effects on the human body.

"In this specific study, authors conflate subjects" reporting of having "ever used' cannabis as evidence of current and habitual use". For example, it can not be certain that participants used marijuana continuously since they first tried it. It determined that pot use was more associated with hypertension than cigarette use was.

Authors of the study utilized a "retrospective study" design. There was no association between marijuana use and death from heart disease or cerebrovascular disease.

In his response to Healthline, Armentano pointed out two separate longitudinal studies that examined the relationship between marijuana use and some common cardiovascular ailments. Therefore, he said, "it is reasonable to advise that certain potential high-risk populations may wish to refrain from cannabis inhalation because of these concerns". "Recreational use of drugs like marijuana and alcohol at low, moderate levels has actually been shown to be kind of positive", Jamerson reported.

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