Marijuana users risk death from high blood pressure

People who smoke marijuana are three times more likely to die as a result of high blood pressure, according to new research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

During the study, by Georgia State University in the United States, the researchers cross compared data from 1,213 marijuana users with mortality statistics, and adjusted for confounding factors such as alcohol and tobacco intake.

The average duration of cannabis use in the cohort was 11 and a half years. The results showed that, on average, users of the drug are 3.42 times more likely to die from hypertension – and the risk increases with every year of use.

Barbara Yankey, the study’s co-lead author, said: ‘Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health. It is important to establish whether any health benefits outweigh the potential health, social and economic risks. If marijuana use is implicated in cardiovascular diseases and deaths, then it rests on the health community and policy makers to protect the public.’

Instant analysis

This is a retrospective study (which relies on accurate reporting of information) rather than a controlled clinical trial, and as with all studies like this is somewhat open to inaccuracies, both in the detail of the information available, and the reporting of the information itself.

Compounding this would be that it relies on, for many participants, accurate reporting of illegal drug use, which has obvious implications. However, this study is based on recreational marijuana use, and as such is mostly concerning smoking marijuana. It stands to reason that this will have cardiovascular implications that should not be ignored.

It would be interesting to see a comparison of different methods of use, dosages etc to establish more information that could be relevant in considering medical administration, as well as public health concerns with respect to recreational marijuana use.

Research score: 3/5

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