Pubdate: Thu, 3 May 2007
Source: Irish Examiner (Ireland)
Copyright: Examiner Publications Ltd, 2007
Author: Eoin English


Cannabis Use Can Trigger Undetected Fatal Heart Conditions, An
Inquest Into The Death Of A Fit Young Father From Sudden Adult Death
Syndrome (SADS) Was Told Yesterday.

Cork Coroner's Court heard details of the tragic death  of David
Kelly, aged 21, from St Theresa's Road in the  city, in March 2006.

The inquest was told that Mr Kelly, who was very  health-conscious,
collapsed and died in front of his  girlfriend, Stephanie.

He was an occasional user of cannabis and a post mortem  found tiny
traces of the drug in his system.

He was rushed to the Mercy University Hospital (MUH)  but he died
despite frantic efforts by doctors to save  him.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said  David died
because the rhythmic electrical pulse in his  heart misfired, causing
it to stop beating almost  immediately. She pointed to a growing body
of medical  evidence which shows links between the triggering of
similar heart conditions and the use of drugs like  cannabis and cocaine.

"On the basis of the evidence, it may have been that  death by SADS
may have been triggered by cannabis use,"  she said.

"Cannabis can only prove to be the trigger in certain  cases. It is
not the cause of death."

However, the inquest was told that, in almost a quarter  of such
cases, the individual had an underlying genetic  cardiac problem.

David is survived by his parents, three brothers and  his baby son --
some of whom became very distressed  during yesterday's inquest.

Dr Bolster recommended that they all be screened for  the congenital
heart condition following his tragic  death.

Addressing the family directly, Dr Bolster said David  would have died
almost instantly and would not have  suffered.

The nature of his heart condition meant he could have  died at any
time and that even if he collapsed in front  of doctors, they may not
have been able to save him,  she said.

City Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane recorded an open verdict  because,
despite evidence that cannabis may have  triggered David's fatal heart
condition, she said there  was not enough evidence to support a
verdict of death  by misadventure.
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