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Blood Pressure Status in Cannabis Consumers by Joint, Blunt, and Vape Use: Preliminary Results from the Herbal Heart Study

Ranya Marrakchi El Fellah
University of Miami

Co-Authors: Amrit Baral1, Bria-Necole Diggs1, Sarah Messiah2, Raul Gonzalez3, Barry Hurwitz1, Claudia Martinez1, Denise C Vidot1
1University of Miami, 2University of Texas, 3Florida International University

Background: Prior studies have reported raised heart rate as an immediate physiological response to cannabis ingestion. Changes in heart rate typically correlates with blood pressure, depending on the dosage of cannabis use. Although evidence suggests that cannabis use may have these cardiovascular implications, findings are unclear and there is a dearth of knowledge regarding its effect on BP by routes of cannabis administration. Given the current popularity of various cannabis consumption methods, our analysis aims to explore the association of different routes of cannabis administration on blood pressure among young adult cannabis consumers.

Methods: The study utilized data from the baseline visit of the ongoing Herbal Heart Study cohort, which explores the impact of cannabinoids and various routes of cannabis administration on subclinical cardiovascular risk among young adults (18-35 years) in South Florida. Participants self-reported cannabis use, and use was further confirmed through rapid urine tests for drug screening. Blood pressure readings were obtained using a digital sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff), with three readings taken consecutively and the mean value of the readings was included in this analysis. Abnormal blood pressure was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥130 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure ≥85 mm Hg. Descriptive statistics were employed to estimate the prevalence of abnormal blood pressure by different routes of cannabis administration: joint, blunt (wrapped in tobacco leaf), and vape.

Results: Among the total sample of 150 participants, the mean age was 24.6 years (SD=4.5), with 66.7% being female, 51.3% identifying as Hispanic/Latino, and 50.7% reporting cannabis use. There was no significant difference in mean age between cannabis users and non-users (p=0.254). Within the cannabis user group, 30.3% used blunts, 34.2% used joints, and 35.5% used vape. Abnormal blood pressure was observed in 14.7% of the total sample, with 63.6% of those cases occurring among cannabis users. Among cannabis users with abnormal blood pressure, the majority were blunt users (31.8%), followed by vape users (22.7%) and joint users (9.1%).

Conclusion: The findings indicated a higher prevalence of abnormal blood pressure among cannabis users, with variations observed based on the method of consumption. Further investigation is necessary to uncover potential causal relationships. Overall, future research is required on the method of consumption to gain a deeper understanding of the potential implications for subclinical cardiovascular risk associated with cannabis.