Marijuana users have a three-fold risk of death from hypertension and high blood pressure, says a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology

The large-scale study saw researchers examine 1213 people for six years, and found that death rates from high blood pressure were associated with people who reported using marijuana.

The average duration of marijuana use among the test subjects was 11.5 years.

Compared to non-users, marijuana users had a 3.42-times higher risk of death from hypertension and a 1.04 greater risk for each year of use.

There was no link between marijuana use and dying from heart or cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes.

Study lead Barbara Yankey said: “We found that marijuana users had a greater than three-fold risk of death from hypertension and the risk increased with each additional year of use.”

“Our results suggest a possible risk of hypertension mortality from marijuana use. 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. Emergency rooms have reported cases of angina and heart attacks after marijuana use.”

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The authors also noted that the cardiovascular risk associated with marijuana use may be greater than the cardiovascular risk already established for cigarette smoking.

“We found higher estimated cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use than cigarette smoking. This indicates that marijuana use may carry even heavier consequences on the cardiovascular system than that already established for cigarette smoking. However, the number of smokers in our study was small and this needs to be examined in a larger study,” Yankey said.

“Needless to say, the detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking.”

BBC