Study links pot use to hypertension, but doctor say study is 'flawed'

Posted August 11, 2017

A review of US health survey data found that marijuana users were three times more likely to die from causes related to high blood pressure, or hypertension, said lead researcher Barbara Yankey.

"Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health", said Barbara Yankey, who co-led the research at the school of public health at Georgia State University in the United States.

Researchers studied cannabis users between 2005 and 2011, looking at how long they had used the drug for and their general health. They found death rates from high blood pressure were associated with people who reported using pot. Corresponding mortality data were collected from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. As compared to non-users who had 3.42 times higher risk of death from hypertension.

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Ms Yankey said: 'Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen demand. A lot of the study's takeaways also reflect already-established heart-related health risks linked to cigarette smoking.

She added that "the detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking", and that if people are to make informed decisions about smoking weed, they need to be in possession of the full facts.

This risk increases by more than one time for every year of cannabis use, a study found. For each year of marijuana use, the HR was 1.04 (95% CI, 1-1.07).

Armentano also argued that this new study's results are also jeopardized because of the ambiguous definition of "marijuana user".

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Yankey pointed out that there were limitations to the way marijuana use was estimated.

It's critically important for people with type 2 diabetes - those who have known risk factors for heart disease and those who don't - to follow their doctors' advice for lowering their heart disease risk. "However, the number of smokers in our study was small, and this needs to be examined in a larger study".

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.

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