Doctor’s Report Says Young Man Suffers ‘Cannabis-Induced’ Heart Attack

A large amount of cannabis escapes from a jar

So far, cases remain rare, but it could increase after legalization. Image credit: Soru Epotok/

A 27-year-old man suffered a cannabis-induced heart attack, according to a case report by his medical team. Writing in the Annals of Medicine and Surgery, the man’s doctors report that he had been referred to their department for a myocardial infarction (a heart attack) following chest pain a week before his admission.

A narrowing was found in the middle segment of the left anterior descending artery, which was corrected by the implantation of a new generation stent.

“Cannabis use increases the risk of cardiovascular events, not only in patients with traditional cardiovascular risk factors, but also in the younger population without any risk factors,” the team wrote in their report.

“Here we describe the case of a myocardial infarction caused by cannabis use in a young man with no significant medical history.”

The patient – who was a heavy smoker and long-term cannabis user who avoided other drugs except occasional alcohol – had no other risk factors for heart disease. He started having chest pain shortly after using cannabis.

“The increasing consumption of cannabis poses a major risk to [heart attacks]. Physicians must be vigilant in diagnosing cannabis-induced diseases. [heart attacks] in younger patients, especially without cardiovascular risk factors,” the team wrote.

“We hope it will raise awareness of the deadly consequences of cannabis use on the cardiovascular system and help reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with [heart attack] due to cannabis use.

As the report makes clear, reports of cannabis-induced heart attacks are rare and poorly understood, with only 51 reported in the literature since the first report in 2003. However, a large-scale study published in April this year has also linked cannabis use with an increased risk of heart disease and heart attack.

The study, led by researchers at Stanford Medicine, also found that THC – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – causes inflammation of cells lining the inside of blood vessels and atherosclerosis in mice.

“Marijuana has a significant adverse effect on the cardiovascular system,” medical instructor Dr. Mark Chandy said in a press release. “As more and more states legalize the use of marijuana, I expect we will begin to see an increase in heart attacks and strokes in the coming years. Our studies of human cells and mice clearly describe how exposure to THC triggers a damaging molecular cascade in blood vessels.It is not a benign drug.

While not great, the same research found that inflammation and hardening of the arteries can be blocked by genistein – a small molecule found in soy and beans.

“As more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana, users should be aware that it may have cardiovascular side effects,” said Joseph Wu, professor of cardiovascular medicine and radiology and director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute.

“But genistein works well enough to attenuate marijuana-induced damage to endothelial vessels without blocking marijuana’s effects on the central nervous system, and this could be a way for medical marijuana users to protect themselves from a cardiovascular point of view.

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