Marijuana triples your chances of dying from high BP

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However, the new study has emerged as a wake-up call to all those who consider marijuana as medicinally beneficial. Participants reported the age when they first tried marijuana, and this was subtracted from their current age to calculate the duration of use.

In recent years, studies have linked marijuana use to cardiovascular problems.

A Quinnipiac University poll found 94 percent of US voters think medical marijuana should be legal.

"It does not prove that if you choose to use marijuana you are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease", Prasad told The Oregonian. "We found higher estimated cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use than cigarette smoking". But, there is a lack in research on the effect of marijuana use on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular deaths. Participants who used marijuana and were past-smokers consisted of 16%, and past-smokers and those who smoke only cigarettes were 5% and 4% respectively. Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen demand.

Researchers at New York University School of Medicine in New York City analyzed information from the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the American College of Cardiology on disease prevention in people with type 2 diabetes.

The analyses of the data revealed that compared to non-users, marijuana users had a 3.42 times higher risk of death from hypertension and a 1.04 times greater risk for each year of use.

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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.

Neither cigarettes, nor marijuana was used by 34% of the total participants; 21% of them used only marijuana, while 20% used both marijuana and cigarettes.

Yankey pointed out that there were limitations to the way marijuana use was estimated.

The study was based on the research on 1,213 adults aged 20 and above who had used marijuana for more than 11 years. "This indicates that marijuana use may carry even heavier consequences on the cardiovascular system than that already established for cigarette smoking". The researchers acknowledged "the number of smokers in our study was small and this needs to be examined in a larger study".

"Given an increasing trend to decriminalise use of marijuana, it is important to understand the health risks of its use".

If use of marijuana has any impact on cardiovascular diseases as well as deaths, then it is the responsibility of the health community and policy makers to protect the public, says Ms. Yankey.