Marijuana Side Effects May Include Hypertension Risks: Study

As the effort to legalize marijuana and allow recreational use of the drug continues throughout the U.S., researchers have released a new study that suggests the potential side effects of marijuana may include a risk of abnormally high blood pressure. 

In a study published this month in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, researchers indicate that individuals using marijuana recreationally were found to be up to three times more likely to experience fatal cardiovascular events caused by hypertension, suggesting the need for additional research.

Researchers from School of Public Health, Georgia State University, lead by Barbara A. Yankey, conducted a study that gathered participant data from the 2005 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in which participants were given the option to select whether they used marijuana. The study pulled information from 1,213 participants for mortality follow-up that were aged 20 years and responded to questions on marijuana use.

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After the mortality follow-up analysis, 332 deaths were recorded among the 1,213 individuals participating in the 2005 study, of whom 57 percent reported using marijuana. The study applied controlling factors for many health and behavioral variables, including prior diagnosis of high blood pressure, and found those who used marijuana had more than three times the risk of death from hypertension-related causes.

When adjusting the ratios for death from hypertension among marijuana users compared to non-marijuana users was 3.42, according to the study data. For each additional year of use increased the percentage by 1.04, suggesting the use, and long term use of marijuana increased the risk of hypertension mortality.

“Increased duration of marijuana use is associated with increased risk of death from hypertension,” the researchers concluded. “Recreational marijuana use potentially has cardiovascular adverse effects which need further investigation.”

Hypertension is a medical diagnosis that indicates the individual has abnormally high blood pressure, which can lead to deteriorating cardiovascular health. Hypertension is diagnosed when the normal blood pressure of 120 over 80mm reaches 140 over 90mmHg or higher.

Many of the acute causes of high blood pressure include stress or poor dieting and if left untreated can result in serious and potentially fatal adverse health consequences including strokes, heart attacks, aneurysm, kidney failure, amputation and even hypertensive retinopathies, which can lead to blindness.

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