Marijuana use linked with risk of death from hypertension, study says

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A new study has found that smoking marijuana could have a surprising health risk.

The study from School of Public Health of Georgia State University was published Wednesday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Results suggest marijuana use is more risky for heart health than cigarettes, despite certain campaigners insisting cannabis is safer than tobacco. According to the scientists' calculations, the average duration of marijuana use was 11.5 years.

In 2005 to 2006, the study's participants were asked if they had ever used marijuana and, if so, how old they were when they first started.

'This indicates that marijuana use may carry even heavier consequences on the cardiovascular system than that already established for cigarette smoking'.

A total of 1,213 participants were considered for the analyses.

Combining the data on marijuana use with the National Centre for Health Statistics' mortality data in 2011, the effect of marijuana use and the duration of use on deaths due to hypertension (which included causes like hypertensive renal disease as well as primary hypertension), cerebrovascular disease and heart disease, controlling for the use of cigarette, was estimated.

Researchers enrolled 1,213 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants aged at least 20 years in a retrospective study who answered "yes" or "no" questions on the recreational use of marijuana.

Experts believe the findings could have particular implications in the U.S., where eight states have legalized marijuana and others are thought to be moving towards it.

"Compared with no marijuana use, cumulative lifetime and recent marijuana use showed no association with incident CVD [cardiovascular disease], stroke, or transient ischemic attacks, coronary heart disease, or CVD mortality", the authors of that study wrote.

Marijuana use increases the risk of dying from high blood pressure by more than three times, new research reveals.

"However, although this paper has limitations there is enough evidence from other research to strongly suspect marijuana use increases the risk of some forms of heart disease, and it is certainly not harmless". There was however no association between marijuana use and death from heart disease or cerebrovascular disease. They focused on two main areas: lifestyle - diet, exercise, smoking, for example - and the reduction of risk factors associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. The researchers acknowledged "the number of smokers in our study was small and this needs to be examined in a larger study".

She noted that it was crucial to understand the effects of marijuana on health so that policy makers and individuals could make informed decisions.

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