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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

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Smoking marijuana . Feeling uncomfortable, loss of appetite and have breathing problem. What are the risks?

Answered by
Dr. Prabhakar C Koregol

Cardiologist, Interventional

Practicing since :1998

Answered : 424 Questions

Posted on Wed, 19 Dec 2012 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
Question: Hi
I am a 26 year old male.
I am writing to ask your opinion on whether I should be concerned about my heart/lungs.
I smoke about a quarter of a marijuana cigarette a day (no more, sometimes less) since 18, but lately have been cutting back to about once every three days.
The reason why I am concerned is because I have had some symptoms of heart disease over the past 2 years.
It started in April 2011. I was under alot of stress. For about 2 -3 months I was having pain in my chest and a tight left bicep. Those pains have gone away since about July 2011.
Also, I was taking a medical prior to 2011 called avodart which has been known and publicized to possibily lead to heart failure. I was taking it for hair loss. I quit the drug in april 2011 after 4 years of use because I was having other symptoms. Other symptoms included muscle loss.
I can still exercise very hard and have no symptoms (ie swim for an hour - I do stop often).I did play hockey the other day and was very winded and struggled very much breathing very hard and felt uncomfotable but no chest pain. Hockey is very damanding sport. But it seems like my chest is always tight like my lungs are tight, like shallow breathing.
Other symptoms that I have is very low appetite and the food seems to just sit in my stomach (I guess you can say digestion problems - I always feel full ) and always seem to be pretty tired.
I eat very clean low fat diet, no meat.
Yesterday I was in very cold weather and my left chest started feeling alittle weird.
In 2011 I went to the hositpal when I had bad chest pains and they did blood tests and an ecg and saidnothing was wrong. Now I think it could have been gas. I later had a stress test, echo and cartoid ultrasound. The stress test was normal and the echo was normal- the doctor said I had "athelete's heart" but it was NOT enlarged (the thing was I was not exercising in excess at that time). The cartoid ultrasound showed "no plaque". Also the echo showed mild regurgitation (I'm not postivte but I think this is what it was). I have also been diagnosed with moderate acid reflux. I also had another echo and stress test with another cardiologist who said my tests were normal except the regurgitation.
My blood tests are excellent - low cholesterol, etc.
I may be 10-20 pounds overweight ie 178 and 5'9.
My questions are as follows:
1. Were the tests that I had enough to rule out any problems?
2. Do you suggest any other tests to completely rule out any problems? How about a heart CT?
3. Should I worry about the regurgitation?
4. Should I be worried in general?
5. Exactly how much damage have I done by smoking 1/4 a marijuana cigarette a day? How bad is that? How about if I quit to once a week? I do not drink or do any other drugs.
Please if you have time write me back. I am very worried, especially since the weird, tight left chest in the very cold weather yesterday. Thanks so much. I am really worried.
Answered by Dr. Prabhakar C Koregol 54 minutes later

Thanks for detailed and clear description. I appreciate that.

As the beginning of my response, I would like answering your last question first; according to me, it looks like it's time for you to quit smoking completely. There is no exact quantification AND direct and linear relation of heart damage to dose of smoking. For a healthy heart, it has to be NON SMOKER. Even a single one can cause significant enough damage over a period of time.

Now let me come to your other questions;

1. I guess you need one more TMT, Pulmonary function test and endoscopy to define if there is any problem other than gastritis or reflux that is likely to be causing your problem. You need to repeat them even though previous reports are normal.

2. If you are able to perform the above mentioned tests and reports come normal then you would don't need any other tests including a heart CT.

3. Mild regurgitations on echo are common findings and nothing to worry about them.

4. If your tests are normal and you can quit smoking then I don't see any reason for you to be worried.

Hope I have answered all your queries. Please get back if you have any other queries.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad
Follow up: Dr. Prabhakar C Koregol 2 hours later
Hi thank you for your response.
Two quick questions.
I did have a Spirometry, which the doctor said was of no concern. What other pulmonary test would to recommend?
What is an endoscopy? I did have an upper GI and lower GI barium tests done - which is when they said I had mild reflux.
Why do you suggest repeat? Do you think there is anything wrong with my heart?
why would I have chest pain in cold weather, plus the arm pain and chest pain in 2011? What could that have been?
Answered by Dr. Prabhakar C Koregol 18 hours later
Hi and Thanks again,

1. All your tests were done a year ago, but as you report fresh symptoms and continued smoking we cannot relate these symptoms to your old set of investigation. Hence my suggestion to repeat the test. Nevertheless based on your description I do not expect you to have any heart problems.

2. Endoscopy is a minor outpatient procedure conducted at a Gastroenterologist's office. A flexible tube referred to as endoscope will be passed into the food pipe in an attempt to visualize the esophagus and stomach interior. Any pathology - gastritis, ulcers, erosions, GERD can be classified based on the findings noted. This is the gold standard test for many esophageal and stomach conditions including GERD.

3. Spirometry will include most of the lung function tests. That should suffice. However as I said earlier, you may need to repeat this again.

4. The chest discomforts could be due to lung spasm. It's normal to feel some tightness and breathing difficulty in cold weather.

Hope I answered all your queries. Let me know if you have other concerns.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad

The User accepted the expert's answer

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