Article by Angela Stelmakowich, Growth Op
A new study exploring the longitudinal relationship between using cannabis and having hypertension, or high blood pressure, shows that weed is actually associated with a lower incidence… that is until age gets thrown into the mix.
To get a better handle on what the cannabis/hypertension relationship looks like, an international research team — including investigators from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. — carried out a three-year follow-up on a large population-based sample out of the U.S.
The team examined the self-reported data from two waves of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, resulting in 26,844 participants who did not report hypertension at baseline.
Using the sample, investigators conducted analyses to “quantify the relationships between lifetime cannabis use, 12-month cannabis use and 12-month cannabis use frequency and incidence of hypertension,” states the study, published last month in Drug and Alcohol Review.
The unadjusted analyses showed that using cannabis was associated with a lower incidence of hypertension, but that “the relationships were confounded by age,” the study notes. After adjusting for all confounders, lifetime cannabis use, 12-month cannabis use and 12-month cannabis use frequency (defined as at least monthly use) “were not associated with the incidence of hypertension,” study authors write.
Commenting on the study results, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws points out that “prior data has shown that cannabinoids may influence blood pressure and other cardiovascular responses, though these effects tend to be short-term in duration.”
Statistics Canada reports that from 2012 to 2015, hypertension affected almost one in four Canadian adults. In the U.S., 45 per cent of adults have hypertension and almost half a million deaths in 2018 included hypertension as a primary or contributing cause, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People who smoke cannabis “may face a higher risk of dying of complications of high blood pressure than people who never use the drug,” noted a 2017 post by the Harvard Medical School. “The results suggest that the cardiovascular risks of marijuana use may be similar to smoking cigarettes.”
And a study published in Addiction Research five years ago found that “cannabis use is associated with an acceleration of the cardiovascular age.”