Background: Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is rarely caused by coronary artery disease in young patients unless cardiovascular risk factors are present. Although non-atherosclerotic causes of ACS are rare, they need to be considered in young patients.
Case summary: We report on a 21-year-old patient referred to our institution with ACS. Electrocardiogram showed ST-segment elevation and coronary angiography revealed thrombotic occlusion of the left anterior descending artery. Reperfusion was achieved by thrombus aspiration, glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors (GPI), and drug-eluting stent (DES). The patient had no cardiovascular risk factors but reported cannabis consumption before symptom onset. Although he was put on dual antiplatelet therapy and strictly advised to avoid consumption, he continued to abuse cannabis and suffered three further ACS events within 18 months: the first 8 months later caused by thrombotic occlusion of a diagonal branch treated by GPI and DES, the second after 17 months due to thrombotic re-occlusion of the diagonal branch, and the third after 18 months by thrombotic occlusion of the circumflex artery, both events treated by GPI alone (all while still using cannabis). Since then, he stopped cannabis consumption and has been symptom-free for 8 months.
Discussion: This case highlights that cannabis-induced ACS must be considered as a cause of myocardial infarction in young adults. In contrast to ACS in the elderly population, this unusual ACS cause requires specific treatment. The risk of ACS relapse may substantial if cannabis abuse is continued. This potential hazard needs to be taken into consideration when legalization of cannabis is discussed.