He ate a 'pot lollipop'—and a heart attack soon followed

He ate a 'Pot lollipop' -- and a heart attack soon followed
(HealthDay)—If you're an aging baby boomer who thinks you can handle today's potent marijuana "edibles," the case of a man who had a heart attack after eating a pot lollipop should give you pause.

The 70-year-old patient had been taking and consumed roughly 90 milligrams (mg) of THC while trying to ease pain and aid sleep. That's a far greater amount than the 7 mg of THC that is typically found in a single joint. THC is the ingredient in pot that makes you high.

A ensued after the man felt crushing chest pain and experienced a sudden reduction of blood flow to his , his Canadian doctors reported.

The patient survived, noted study author Dr. Alexandra Saunders. But, "we thought this case report was important to publish because it was about a person with known heart disease and for heart disease, which is an ever-growing part of our population," Saunders said.

Although the man had smoked pot when he was young, average THC counts have since risen considerably. Nor had the patient understood that the effects of edibles kick in more slowly, are more powerful and last longer, noted Saunders, who is chief resident of the department of cardiology's internal medicine program at Dalhousie University in Saint John, New Brunswick.

"What we presume about this event is that the intense stress caused from his fearful hallucinations caused him to have undue stress on his heart, making his heart beat faster and blood pressure go up in such a way that his coronary arteries were not able to meet the demand for blood supply," Saunders explained.

THC-prompted blood vessel inflammation may also have played a role, though Saunders said this possibility requires more research.

That said, the researchers noted that the typical THC dosage in synthetic medicinal pot products specifically intended for nausea control and appetite stimulation (often as a treatment for AIDS and/or cancer) is just 2.5 mg. So, would those products have been safe?

"That is the part that we do not know at present and have no guidance on," said Saunders, adding that while the researchers "assume that a smaller dose certainly would have put less of a stress on the heart, [there are] no studies or data to support this."

Regardless, Saunders said that "this case brings attention to the fact that just because something is legal, does not mean it is safe and does not mean it is something that should be taken by everyone. We do not want to demonize it, we just want our with heart disease to have proper guidance."

Saunders encouraged consumers to familiarize themselves with the THC content of any marijuana product, and to take the form of the product into account. For example, pot lollipops are not intended to be consumed all at once, despite what many might presume.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the marijuana legalization advocacy organization called NORML, said that his organization has "long recognized that THC exposure can influence and heart rate, particularly in more naive consumers."

As a result, he said, "there may be some populations that may be vulnerable to increased risks from the use of cannabis," including adolescents, pregnant women, nursing mothers, patients and those with a personal or family history of psychiatric illness.

"As with any medication, patients should consult thoroughly with their physician before deciding whether the medical use of cannabis is safe and appropriate," Armentano added.

To date, Canada has only legalized marijuana leaves for recreational use, although pot edibles are scheduled for legalization later this year.

In the United States, pot is banned on a federal level, although it is recreationally legal in Washington, D.C., and 10 states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Medical marijuana use is legalized in 33 states, and Washington, D.C.

The case report was published online Feb. 11 in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

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Potent marijuana edibles can pose a major unrecognized risk to patients with cardiovascular disease

More information: Alexandra Saunders, M.D., chief resident, internal medicine program and Horizon Health Network's department of cardiology, Dalhousie University, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada; Paul Armentano, deputy director, NORML, Washington, D.C.; Feb. 11, 2019, Canadian Journal of Cardiology, online

There's more about marijuana use at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Journal information: Canadian Journal of Cardiology

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Citation: He ate a 'pot lollipop'—and a heart attack soon followed (2019, February 11) retrieved 22 April 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-02-ate-pot-lollipopand-heart.html
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User comments

Feb 11, 2019
Absolutely spot on. Although I'm a mad aging pot fiend myself, the medical properties I think are vastly over-hyped. For me the body is its own pharmacy, and the key is exercise - gym before joint. I feel sorry for the old guy, and I hope he makes a good recovery.

Feb 11, 2019
100.000 people die every year in the USA from alcohol overdose.

In underdeveloped nations alcohol is considered as a holy beverage, so much that people deny that you can die from alcohol overdose, so data of alcohol overdoses. They had been effectively brainwashed, and they put a virulent ideas in their ignorant heads.

Feb 13, 2019
I/we never touched the stuff (marijuana) and glad of it. After having read so many sob stories about users of cannabis, one has to wonder what is wrong with these people who can't seem to cope with life the way it is without committing atrocities against one's own physical body and brain.
Likewise with heroin, cocaine and other shite.

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