Marijuana may significantly lower blood pressure in older users

A new study reports that cannabis use may lower blood pressure in older adults, though additional research is necessary to get a better understanding of the substance's effect on cardiovascular health. The research comes from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Soroka University Medical Center; it was recently published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.

The increasing legalization of marijuana, as well as medical marijuana programs, has resulted in a growing number of people — including older adults — consuming the substance for various potential health benefits. Use for chronic pain issues is one driving factor behind medical marijuana use, and the researchers say that pain relief may help explain why cannabis use is associated with lowered blood pressure in older adults.

The study focused on adults ages 60 and older who were diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension). Using data from ECG, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, and more, the study found that marijuana use was associated with a 'significant' drop in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure over a 24-hour period, with the lowest point occurring three hours after use.

The participants consumed marijuana in the form of smoking and oil extracts, the study notes, also reporting that while blood pressure decreased during both the day and night, the nighttime decrease was more significant. BGU Faculty of Health Sciences' Dr. Ran Abuhasira said:

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