A study of people 60 and older who had hypertension...

A study of people 60 and older who had hypertension found significant decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Credit: Deamstime/TNS

A 2020 study found the number of Americans age 65 and older who smoke marijuana or use edibles increased 75% from 2015 to 2018. A newer study has found that the use may reduce blood pressure for some of them.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and its affiliated Soroka University Medical Center

studied patients ages 60 and older in 2021. The subjects, who all had hypertension, were prescribed cannabis, then monitored with 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure devices.

The researchers also performed ECGs, administered blood tests and took body measurements before the patients began their cannabis use and three months afterward.

They found a significant reduction in 24-hour systolic and diastolic blood pressure values, with the lowest point occurring three hours after ingesting cannabis either orally via oil extracts or by smoking.

One reason for the lower blood pressure, the researchers wrote, might be that cannabis eases any pain symptoms the older adults had, and pain can raise blood pressure.

But other research is cautionary.

A study of 430,000 adults in the United States, published in February in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that people who used cannabis had an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The majority of the survey respondents — 73.8% — reported smoking as their most common form of cannabis consumption.

“Our study shows that smoking cannabis has significant cardiovascular risks, just like smoking tobacco,” lead study author Abra Jeffers, a data analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said in a release. “This is particularly important because cannabis use is increasing, and conventional tobacco use is decreasing.”

Doug Seserman, chief executive of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, noted, “Cannabis research is in its early stages.” The blood pressure study, he said, is one of several by Ben-Gurion University “on the medicinal benefits of cannabis.”

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