When compared with non-users, the users of marijuana were 3.42 times more likely to suffer hypertension as a cause of death, and with the addition of each year of use, the risk increased by 1.04 times.
There's some bad news for marijuana users who like to blaze recreationally, as a recent study from Georgia State University has linked smoking pot to cardiovascular problems, including a greater risk of hypertension, which can be deadly.
The only qualification to meet this definition was if NHANES respondents answered "yes" when asked if they had ever used marijuana. Corresponding mortality data were collected from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While there is a known risk of heart disease with tobacco use, Yankey said marijuana could possibly pose a higher risk than cigarettes.
"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", said Yankey. "Emergency rooms have reported cases of angina and heart attacks after marijuana use". "However, there is little research on the impact of marijuana use on [CV] and cerebrovascular mortality".
"We found higher estimated cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use than cigarette smoking", Yankey added. "It's important that recreational use of marijuana is approached with caution, because we don't have all the information". Many parts of the world have already made marijuana legal and others are exploring the possibility to follow the same path.
Yankey acknowledged the study had its limitations, including not knowing how often participants used the drug after first use, and not taking into account cardiovascular risks such as diet and exercise. "However, the number of smokers in our study was small, and this needs to be examined in a larger study". "If marijuana use is implicated in cardiovascular diseases and deaths, then it rests on the health community and policy makers to protect the public".
Interestingly, marijuana users had a higher risk of dying from hypertension.
Individuals who used marijuana faced a relative-but nonsignificant-increase in risk of 0.4% for each year of use, researchers found.
Armentano acknowledged that cannabinoids (a class of chemicals found in marijuana, - the most well-known is THC, a psychoactive) do affect blood pressure - a subject that he has written about previously.