There is more support for marijuana legalization which may significantly increase usage. While it provides benefit for some, little research on its impact to cardiovascular health has been done.
A new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found 21% of their 1,213 participants smoked only marijuana, 20% smoked marijuana and cigarettes, and 4% only smoked cigarettes. The average use of marijuana was 11.5 years.
From the data collected researchers found marijuana use to be associated with a 3.42 times higher risk of death from hypertension with an increase of 1.04 times higher risk for each year of use. It was found that cardiovascular risk was higher in marijuana smokers than cigarette smokers which was cause for concern. One researcher stated “the detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking.”
Marijuana impacts the cardiovascular system by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This can lead to an increase in oxygen demand, heart rate, and blood pressure. Cases of heart attacks after marijuana use have been reported.
Researchers discourage believing in claims that marijuana is not harmful to health. As use becomes more popular they encourage caution to assess whether health benefits outweigh the risks. More studies to identify a correlation between marijuana use and cardiovascular health are encouraged.