Cardiovascular Death Risk Significantly Higher with Marijuana Use

Though the long-term health effects of marijuana use are still contested among many health professionals, the George State study yielded one clear conclusion: regular marijuana users are reportedly three times more likely to die by hypertension - or high blood pressure - than non-marijuana users.

Barbara Yankey, who co-led the research at Georgia State University, said the study could have implications in the wake of marijuana legalization in several states.

The study observed about 1,200 people who had been involved in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Reuters reports. In 2005-2006, they were asked if they had ever used marijuana.

Using marijuana is associated with a threefold higher risk of dying from hypertension, according to a recent retrospective study. They found death rates from high blood pressure were associated with people who reported using pot. The information was merged with 2011 mortality data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics and adjusted for factors like tobacco smoking, sex, age and ethnicity.

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Ms Yankey said: 'Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen demand. Yankey pointed out the emergency rooms that have reported cases of angina and heart attacks after marijuana use. In light of the debate over whether or not to legalize marijuana, Okosun explained, "the same way we have been very prudent to look into cigarette smoking, we should also be very prudent about ascertaining whether or not patients use marijuana". It didn't track how much marijuana they actually used.

Previous research has also shown that marijuana does increase the risk of stress-induced cardiomyopathy, lending weight to the growing evidence of the extended use of the drug and increased risk of cardiac injury-albeit more research is essential. Additionally, the study only observed smokers who use marijuana recreationally and didn't take into account strains used for medical purposes.

"However, the number of smokers in our study was small and this needs to be examined in a larger study", she added. "Based upon the findings of prior studies, the authors' interpretation with regard to the degree of this risk potential appears to be sensational, and the methods used in this particular study appear to be highly questionable".

However, Armentano noted that other studies have found no link between marijuana use and heart-related diseases.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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