A study from an international team of researchers has found that current or past use of marijuana is not independently associated with an increased risk of hypertension. Results of the study, “The longitudinal relationship between cannabis use and hypertension,” were posted online last month prior to publication in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review

To complete the study, researchers from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Russia investigated the relationship between the use of marijuana and hypertension in a nationally representative sample of subjects. Over a three-year period, researchers monitored the health of the participants, all of whom did not have hypertension at the beginning of the study. 

The investigators then performed an analysis of the data to quantify the relationships between lifetime cannabis use, 12-month cannabis use, and 12-month cannabis use frequency (at least monthly use and less than monthly use) and incidence of hypertension.

Upon initial analysis, the data revealed that “cannabis use was associated with a decreased incidence of hypertension in the unadjusted analyses. However, the relationships were confounded by age.”

“After adjustment for all confounders, neither lifetime cannabis use, 12-month cannabis use nor 12-month cannabis use frequency were associated above chance with the incidence of hypertension,” the authors of the study wrote.

Study Consistent With Prior Research

The results of the study are consistent with separate research published last month that showed cannabis use may actually lower blood pressure in older adults. A report on the research, “Cannabis is associated with blood pressure reduction in older adults—A 24-hours ambulatory blood pressure monitoring study,” appeared in the European Journal of Internal Medicine

Researchers studied 26 elderly patients, monitoring their blood pressure and other metrics over a three-month period. Subjects in the study consumed cannabis by smoking or via oral cannabis oil extracts.

“Cannabis treatment for three months was associated with a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as heart rate,” the study’s authors concluded.

Researchers noted that the lowest blood pressure readings were recorded three hours after cannabis use. While a drop in blood pressure was recorded both during the daytime and at night, the decrease at nighttime was more significant.

Dr. Ran Abuhasira of the Ben-Gurion University Faculty of Health Sciences and the BGU-Soroka Cannabis Clinical Research Institute said that investigation of the effects of cannabis on seniors’ health is lacking. 

“Older adults are the fastest-growing group of medical cannabis users, yet evidence on cardiovascular safety for this population is scarce,” said Abuhasira. “This study is part of our ongoing effort to provide clinical research on the actual physiological effects of cannabis over time.”

Additionally, a meta-analysis of existing data that was published in the journal Neuropharmacology found that additional research could lead to new therapies for cardiovascular diseases including hypertension.

“The endocannabinergic system plays an important cardiovascular regulatory role not only in pathophysiological conditions associated with excessive hypotension but also in hypertension,” the authors wrote. “Thus, the pharmacological manipulation of this system may offer novel therapeutic approaches in a variety of cardiovascular disorders.”

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