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Medical Marijuana and High Blood Pressure

A new study suggests that anyone who smokes marijuana faces risks of high blood pressure than people who have never used the drug.

Those findings sound alarming, but it's important to keep in mind that, like any study, this one has limitations, including that it defines marijuana "users" as anyone who's ever tried the drug and that it doesn't differentiate among strains of a highly unregulated product.

However, the study highlights some key areas for future study including how using cannabis might affect the heart. Here's what you need to know.

We found that marijuana users had a greater than three-fold risk of death from hypertension and the risk increased with each additional year of use.

The researchers then merged that data with statistics on death from all causes, pulled from the Health Statistics, and adjusted it to rule out any factors that could muddle the results, like gender, race, and a history of smoking tobacco.

Overall, those classified as medical marijuana use registry doctors were found to be 3.42 times as likely to die from hypertension, or high blood pressure those who said they had never used. That risk also appeared to rise by a factor of 1.04 with what the researchers labeled "each year of use."

Here's the problem: The study's authors defined anyone who said they had ever tried marijuana as a "regular user."

Other research suggests this is a poor assumption. According to study about 52% of Americans have tried cannabis at some point, yet only 14% said they used the drug "regularly," defined as "at least once a month."

Also, the study was observational meaning it followed a group of people over time and reported what happened to them, so the researchers cannot conclude a cause and effect they can't say that smoking marijuana can cause high blood pressure as two studies and more coming appear to be linked. From our results use may increase the risk for hypertension by no using medical marijuana prescribed by a medical marijuana doctor in Florida.

Another issue is the unregulated nature of the existing, and largely illegal, cannabis market. People are using a wide variety of strains whose concentrations of compounds there are up to 400 THC and CBD can differ drastically.

Charles Pollack, who directs the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and was not involved with the new study that there were many strains of marijuana "with no quality standards," and that was "making it tough to generalize" the effects.

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