A marijuana lollipop with a very high dose of the drug’s active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may have triggered a man’s heart attack, according to a new report of the man’s case.
The 70-year-old man decided to try edible marijuana to see if it would reduce the pain from his osteoarthritis and help him sleep. The man had smoked some marijuana in his youth, but had never tried an edible product, according to the report, which was published today (Feb. 11) in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
One night, the man consumed nearly an entire marijuana lollipop, which contained a staggering 90 milligrams of THC, more than 12 times the dose in a typical joint.
Within a half hour, the man experienced “fearful hallucinations,” followed by “crushing chest pain,” the report said.
The man was taken to the hospital, where doctors determined that he had had a heart attack. The patient had a known history of heart disease, but he was taking several medications for his condition, and had not experienced a heart problem for more than two years. [25 Odd Facts About Marijuana]
It appears that the large dose of THC placed a “sudden and unexpected strain” on the man’s body that may have triggered his heart attack, the report’s authors wrote. The high dose led to hallucinations and anxiety, which in turn increased his heart rate, blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone catecholamine, all of which are known to have harmful effects on the heart, they wrote.
With the increased legalization of marijuana — the drug is now legal for recreational uses in Canada and several U.S. states — the report’s authors say people should be aware that marijuana, like all drugs, may sometimes pose health risks.
“Marijuana can be a useful tool for many patients, especially for pain and nausea relief,” lead case report author Dr. Alexandra Saunders, of Dalhousie University’s Internal Medicine Program in New Brunswick, Canada said in a statement. “At the same time, like all other medications, it does carry risk and side effects.”
The authors called for more research into how different formulations of marijuana may affect the cardiovascular system, particularly among the aging population.