Marijuana ups risk of death from hypertension

The researchers analyzed 1,213 people aged 20 or over who had been involved in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Ike S. Okosun, PhD (Georgia State University), senior author on the paper, which was published online recently in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, told TCTMD that physicians need to take patients' marijuana use and other drug use just as seriously as they have "traditional smoking". Over 19,569 person-years of follow-up, the adjusted hazard ratios for death from hypertension among marijuana users was 3.42 (95% confidence interval, 1.20 to 9.79), compared to non-marijuana users, with and adjusted hazard ratio of 1.04 for each year of marijuana use (95% confidence interval, 1.00 to 1.07). They found death rates from high blood pressure were associated with people who reported using pot.

'Our results suggest a possible risk of hypertension mortality from marijuana use, ' Yankey said.

Initially, Yankey and her colleagues found no difference in the unadjusted risk of hypertension-related death for either cigarette smokers or marijuana users. Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, [BP] and oxygen demand. They focused on two main areas: lifestyle - diet, exercise, smoking, for example - and the reduction of risk factors associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar.

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"We found no association between cannabis and cardiovascular risks [e.g., high blood pressure, higher cholesterol], which may appear at odds with evidence that cannabis use increases risk for cardiovascular complications", the authors wrote.

For more on marijuana and heart health, visit Harvard Medical School.

Yankey acknowledged the study had its limitations, including not knowing how often participants used the drug after first use, and not taking into account cardiovascular risks such as diet and exercise. The data also showed that the risk increases with every year of use.

"It does not prove that if you choose to use marijuana you are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease", Prasad told The Oregonian. We conducted Cox proportional hazards regression analyses to estimate hazard ratios for hypertension, heart disease, and cerebrovascular mortality due to marijuana use. However, she pointed out that cannabis is known to affect the cardiovascular system.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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