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Fainting after smoking marijuana and drinking beer, vomiting. Family history of heart attack. Scared

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
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My husband had a fainting spell last night. It was very frightening for me to witness. He is a 37 year old male of healthy weight who exercises regularly and eats well. Yesterday we had a few beers and relaxed with some friends. In the evening my husband smoked a small amount of marijuana, maybe 1 or two puffs. Je told me after the fainting spell that he felt dizzy after smoking the marijuana and that it was probably a combo of having a few beers and smoking that led him to faint.

The thing is, he has done this before on occasion, and nothing like this has ever happened. I want to note, he is not a big drug user, he has a prescription for marijuana for his back aches and he maybe smokes 4-5 times a month.

I was in the living room when my husband fainted. I saw him coming out of the bathroom and lose his balance. I could tell he knew he was about to go down and within seconds he was flat on his back. I screamed his name a couple times and he did not answer and I dialed 911, he came to just before my connection completed. I said I am calling 911 and he responded "why". So I hung up. He knew where he was at, what day it was his name etc. He assured me that he was fine and that he did not need to go to the Dr. that evening. I was very anxious and I think my anxiety started to scare him and he threw up. This scared me more. He told me the whole thing just got him nervous and that is why he vomited. He promised he would go to the Dr. in the morning. I stayed up all night listening to his breathing.

This morning he was fine. Very normal. I however feel traumatized. My husbands father died at 54 from a heart attack and did not know he had a heart condition. The Dr. was not available to see my husband until tomorrow. My husband did not explain what happened to him, only thatnhe needed to see a Dr., theefore they told him to come in on Monday.

Given my husbands family history, I want to make sure we do everything we can to make sure that we are asking the right questions, getting the right tests, etc. I want to make sure the Dr. we see does not pass this episdode off as a simple fainting spell without making sure it was not something more serious. I want to be better safe than sorry. I do think my husband does not take it as serious as me, granted I am very anxious about these things, and going to chinese medicine and acupuncture school so health is no joke to me.

In the meantime my husband said he is going to stay away from marijuana and alcohol because he feels that is what made him light headed. That and he said getting up to quickly before using the bathroom. I am a nervous wreck and feel like crying and want to do the best thing for my husband and our family. I am so worried. Please help advise me on how we should proceed at the Dr. tomorrow and offer me any insight you have.

Qlso I told my husband if anything strange happened between today and tomorrow I was calling 911 no matter what. So far he is next to me asleep. I cannot sleep though because I am too scared.
Posted Sun, 30 Sep 2012 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
 
 
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 1 hour later
Hello,

Thanks for posting your query.

For syncope/fainting to occur, either the reticular activating system in the brain needs to lose its blood supply, or both hemispheres of the brain need to be deprived of blood, oxygen, or glucose.

So it can be due to fall in BP, hypoglycemia, dehydration and inadequate electrolytes(sodium and calcium) in the body, postural hypotension, blockage of arteries supplying blood to the brain esp. the carotids,anemia,vasovagal attacks or underlying neurological conditions.

In your husband’s case, it can be due to the cocktail or beer and marijuana both of which can cause CNS depression. Your husband should not combine the two. If repeat happens then considering the family history, it can happen due to cholesterol plaque in one of the carotid arteries or due to an abnormal rhythm of the heart. I will suggest doing an ECG, ECHO Doppler of the heart, a 24 hours holter monitoring to look for any rhythm disturbances in the heart and a color Doppler of the vessels of the neck. If these tests are normal, then it will be quite reassuring.

Other than that the hemoglobin levels should also be checked to rule out any anemia.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Please accept my answer in case you have no follow up query.

Wishing you good health.





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Follow-up: Fainting after smoking marijuana and drinking beer, vomiting. Family history of heart attack. Scared 13 minutes later
How should we approach the doctor regarding these tests? My fear is that the Dr. we see will pass this episode off as not a big deal and tell us that these tests are unneccesary. Is there anything we can say to the Dr. that would make them realize that we want the best care and are not trying to be frivolous? Thank you for your help.
 
 
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 24 hours later
Hello,

Thanks for writing back to me.

You should ask the doctor to do an EKG first of all stressing upon the fainting attack and the family history that your husband is having. An EKG is the first test and will give an idea of the cardiac status. If there is any abnormality in the EKG then other tests can be requested.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Please accept my answer in case you have no follow up query.

Wishing you good health.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
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