Cardiac asystole following cannabis (marijuana) usage--additional mechanism for sudden death?

Forensic Sci Int. 2013 Dec 10;233(1-3):e3-5. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.10.007. Epub 2013 Oct 14.


A 21 year old university student previously operated during infancy for an unobstructed total anomalous pulmonary venous drainage with an excellent result, was noted on a routine follow up 24 h Holter monitor to have multiple pauses related to cardiac asystole, the longest lasting 5.8 s and temporally related to marijuana inhalation. A repeat Holter was normal following a two week cessation of marijuana usage and again when carried out 3 months later. The documented periods of asystole may be a precursor of sudden death seen in addicts even without evidence of ischaemic heart disease.

Keywords: Cannabis; Cardiac asystole; Marijuana; Sudden death.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Death, Sudden
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory*
  • Heart Arrest / etiology*
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Pulmonary Veins / abnormalities
  • Pulmonary Veins / surgery
  • Young Adult