BERLIN – Cannabis use likely triggered fatal complications that led to the deaths of two men with underlying health conditions, according to scientists in Germany.
The findings are noteworthy because cannabis isn’t normally associated with acute physical problems, let alone death.
The researchers, based at Duesseldorf and Frankfurt’s university hospitals, said these were isolated cases but suggested people who might have serious heart problems should be made aware of the risk of cannabis use.
Their study was published online this month in the journal Forensic Science International. The cases involved two outwardly healthy young men, aged 23 and 28, who died unexpectedly after smoking cannabis.
“To our knowledge, these are the first cases of suspected fatal cannabis intoxications where full post-mortem investigations (…) were carried out,” the researchers said.
Autopsies showed that the younger man had a serious undetected heart problem and the older one had a history of alcohol, amphetamine and cocaine abuse.
These underlying conditions, combined with cannabis’s known effect of increasing a user’s heart rate or blood pressure when lying down, may have caused the men’s hearts to lose their rhythm.