By examining data provided by 4565 people, researchers at the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago found no association between smoking cannabis and a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension.
Data supplied by both cannabis users, who represented 19% of the sample, and non-cannabis smokers was compared by researchers. They reported that none of the variables that were examined resulted in a higher chance of developing hypertension.
Other ways of consuming cannabis, including ingesting via gummies and brownies, vaping, sublingually with oils and other extracts, and the use of topical creams and lotions were not investigated in the study.
Researchers found the chance of developing hypertension was the same whether the respondent was a high or moderate cannabis smoker. The age of the respondent at the first time of smoking cannabis had no effect on the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, neither did the recency of a period of sustained use. Current cannabis users had the same odds of developing hypertension as non-current users.
“We found no significant association between past sustained cannabis use and clinical hypertension. Additionally, there was no effect on the recency of sustained cannabis use. Our study reinforces the existing research indicating a lack of association between smoking cannabis and hypertension. Our study indicates that recreational use does not appear to increase the risk of hypertension” researchers said.
“The frequency of use and age that respondents began regularly using cannabis was not associated with hypertension status. Though many differences in the effects of cannabis have been noted between adolescents and adults, research stratifying cardiovascular impacts by age is limited. Our finding suggests early evidence that there may not be delayed or long-term effects of cannabis on hypertension, since participants who began using cannabis earlier in life were not more likely to have hypertension.”
Hypertension is a condition where blood pushes against the walls of blood vessels with too much force, this puts a strain on the heart and blood vessels. It can result in serious consequences, including; heart attacks, heart failure, kidney disease, some forms of dementia, stroke and peripheral arterial disease.
There isn’t a single cause of hypertension, although lifestyle choices are thought to be the cause of many diagnoses. Being overweight, eating too much salt, not doing enough exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking tobacco are all thought to contribute to the development of hypertension. Ethnicity, age, and genetic background can also affect blood pressure, as well as problems with the kidneys, infections can also cause blood pressure to rise.
Healthy lifestyle changes are one of the best ways to control hypertension, however, some people with the condition will have to take medication, these include beta-blockers and diuretics amongst others.
Despite the findings of the study indicating that smoking cannabis doesn’t cause long-term hypertension, any method of taking cannabis can increase blood pressure in the short term. For this reason, some people with very high blood pressure should speak with their doctor before thinking about trying cannabis.
A different study from Israel investigating the use of cannabis medicines in elderly people with hypertension found “Cannabis treatment for three months was associated with a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as heart rate.”
The study authors recognised the limitations of the study, stating “Our study is limited by the potential for recall bias, due to the self-reported nature of responses. Although our study may be limited by response bias, the survey was administered digitally in a private setting, strengthening the utility of responses. The survey focused on smoking cannabis, which leaves out other routes of administration such as via food products containing cannabis. Additionally, we did not have quantitative measurements for cannabis use or dosages.”
To conclude their study, researchers agreed that the findings were clear, but firm conclusions would need support from further evidence; “The findings of this study indicate that neither past nor current cannabis use are associated with the likelihood of having clinical hypertension. Among cannabis users, frequency of use was not associated with hypertension. Similarly, the age of first cannabis use was not associated with hypertension status.”
“However, further prospective clinical trials are necessary to make conclusive claims. To our knowledge, this study is the first to evaluate the relationship between the frequency of cannabis use and hypertension status. That even the most chronic users were not at different odds of developing hypertension provides further evidence that there is no relationship between cannabis use and hypertension. There was also no difference in hypertension status between current and past cannabis users.”