Barbara Yankey, who co-led the research at Georgia State University, said the study could have implications in the wake of marijuana legalization in several states.
Researchers enrolled 1,213 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants aged at least 20 years in a retrospective study who answered "yes" or "no" questions on the recreational use of marijuana.
The study also considered subjects "cannabis users" even if they reported using marijuana just one time and stopped. Despite certain campaigners emphasizes cannabis is safer than tobacco, the Study shown that use of marijuana is more risky for the heart than cigarettes.
Yankey said were limitations in the way marijuana use was assessed - including that researchers could not be sure whether people had used the drug continuously since they first tried it.
'Our results suggest a possible risk of hypertension mortality from marijuana use, ' Yankey said. For each year of marijuana use, the risk of death from hypertension increased by 1.04 times.
The elevated risk of hypertension-related death "is not surprising since marijuana is known to have a number of effects on the cardiovascular system", she explained in the press release.
The scientists point to other research that says smoking pot can increase a person's heart rate by 20-100 percent for a few hours. "Emergency rooms have reported cases of angina and [MIs] after marijuana use". In light of the debate over whether or not to legalize marijuana, Okosun explained, "the same way we have been very prudent to look into cigarette smoking, we should also be very prudent about ascertaining whether or not patients use marijuana". "If marijuana use is implicated in cardiovascular diseases and deaths, then it rests on the health community and policy makers to protect the public". The average duration of use was 11.5 years. Many parts of the world have already made marijuana legal and others are exploring the possibility to follow the same path.
'Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health, ' Yankey continued. And, to make matters worse, the risk grows with every year that goes by.