With the legalization of marijuana around the world, there are more and more studies being conducted on the negative and positive outcomes of its usage. The latest research has compared the effects of marijuana with smoking.
According to the researchers conducting the study, people who use marijuana have a three times higher chance of death due to high blood pressure or even death compared to non-users of the drug.
The findings of the study highlight how even smoking is less harmful than marijuana which is a bigger risk factor for cardiovascular issues.
The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. The lead author of the study was Barbara A. Yankey who is a researcher at School of Public Health at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Read the study here.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension or what is more commonly referred to as high blood pressure happens when the pressure of blood pushing against the blood vessels gets really high and is too much to handle.
Around 32 percent of the population in the United States which is around 72 million people suffers high blood pressure problems.
High blood pressure is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. It is also one of the major risk factors for stroke and heart disease. It has been estimated that high blood pressure was responsible for 410,000 deaths in the United States.
Smoking cigarettes is a well-known reason behind a variety of health problems including poor cardiovascular health and hypertension but according to Yankey and colleagues, marijuana may be even more dangerous than people think.
Yankey and the team scrutinized a set of data of 1,231 adults who were 20 years old and older. All of the participants had also been a part of 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Exam Survey.
In the survey, the participants were questioned on their past experiences with marijuana beginning with their earliest use of the drug. Questions on smoking cigarettes were also included in the survey.
For the calculation of the duration of the marijuana use among the participants, the researchers subtracted the age at first experience of the drug from the participant’s age at the current time.
Data from National Center for Health Statistics from 2011 was also incorporated for the assessment of the effects of using marijuana on the risk of death due to heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
About 21 percent of the observed participants used marijuana while 20 percent used both marijuana and cigarettes. 16 percent of the participants were cigarettes smokers previously but now used marijuana.
5 percent of the participants had smoked in the past and 4 percent of the participants smoked cigarettes currently. 34 percent of the participants had never smoked cigarettes and used marijuana. The average period of marijuana-use among the people was 11 and half years.
What Did the Study Find?
The study revealed that people who had used marijuana had 3.42 times higher risk of dying from high blood pressure in comparison with non-users of the drug. In fact, the risk of death because of hypertension increased by 1.04 percent.
Yankey and colleagues were unable to find any connection between heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. The team also claimed that the conclusion may also show that marijuana may be more harmful in comparison with smoking cigarettes.
However, the team also stated that this may need to be studied at a larger scale as the number of smokers in the research was very low.
Although the study was not conducted to understand the mechanism behind deaths due to high blood pressure triggered by marijuana, the drug’s negative effects on the cardiovascular health are well-known.
According to Yankey, using the drug stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which causes blood pressure along with heart rate and oxygen demand.