August 09, 2017
2 min read

Marijuana use triples risk for hypertensive death

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Recreational use of marijuana has been linked to a threefold risk for hypertensive death, according to new data published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Recent marijuana legislation in the U.S. has made it necessary to determine the association between marijuana use and CV mortality, according to Barbara A. Yankey, PhD, MPH, MPA, MSc Clin Pharm, from the division of epidemiology and biostatistics at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University, and colleagues.

“Steps are being taken toward legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in the United States, and rates of recreational marijuana use may increase substantially as a result,” Yankey said in a press release from the European Society of Cardiology. “However, there is little research on the impact of marijuana use on [CV] and cerebrovascular mortality.”

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.

Those who answered “yes” were classified by researchers as marijuana users and duration of use was determined by subtracting age at marijuana use initiation from the age at the screen in 2005.

Yankey and colleagues estimated HRs for hypertension, heart disease and cerebrovascular mortality as a result of marijuana use by conducting Cox proportional hazard regression analyses.

The researchers also controlled for cigarette use, age, race/ethnicity, alcohol use, diagnosis of hypertension and other relevant variables.

At the time of follow-up (19,569 person-years), 72.5% of the eligible participants were presumed to be alive.

After adjustments, marijuana users had an increased risk for death from hypertension (HR = 3.42; 95% CI, 1.2-9.79) compared with nonusers. For each year of marijuana use, the HR was 1.04 (95% CI, 1-1.07).

“We found that marijuana users had a greater than threefold risk of death from hypertension and the risk increased with each additional year of use,” Yankey said in the release. “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 [CV] system. Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, [BP] and oxygen demand. Emergency rooms have reported cases of angina and [MIs] after marijuana use.” – by Dave Quaile

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.