POTHEADS, TAKE HEED
Wayne complained of heartburn and his doctor was about to prescribe a common reflux medicine until he was reminded of a certain medical article he'd recently read. He reconsidered.
Wayne is forty-two, a successful business man, and has done very well with several small businesses, including real estate and one large apartment complex. He sees his doctor once or twice a year for routine things and continues to stay very active and involved. He can do this, he says, because he has no children, and no wife.
He's been married once and says that for him, one's enough. But he's seldom without companionship. While he's no member of the jet set he arranges for his companions online. He flies to Amsterdam, on average every four years, where he develops or picks up an available young lady that he's met online. These ladies are typically Russian women who are much younger than he, by ten to fifteen years.
Over the years the good doctor has had the pleasure of meeting two of the women when Wayne brought them to the office for a medical visit. Wayne's doctor finds them very intelligent, cordial, and speaking with a barely perceptible broken accent. Wayne's four year sojourns to Amsterdam are typically precipitated after the women become "Americanized", so says Wayne, causing them to split.
Anyway, Wayne's speech, though he was not born or raised in the South has a hint of a drawl. But not quite a Southern drawl. More like a tapering of the ends of his words, as you would as if speaking while drowsy and falling off to sleep, with each pronounced syllable subject to a rolling stop. His movements almost seem intentionally deliberate, slower than average and subtle, but not pathological or in any way that would cause attention to him having an illness or condition. He blinks less than average, though his eyes have never been glossed over, at least during the times the doctor's seen him. Wayne admits to smoking marijuana every day since he was twenty-two.
And though there are currently several approved medical uses for marijuana, Wayne has none of them. He has no nausea, anorexia, neuropathic pain, glaucoma, or seizures. And, the doctor says he might add bipolar to this list, because he's seen enough patients with bipolar who have shyly admitted they feel normal when they smoke the weed to believe it to be true.
Anyway, the doctor's initial thought was to prescribe a reflux medication for Wayne's heartburn. But he recalled a medical article he read recently about a link between marijuana abuse and heart health. A study at the Western Reserve University in Cleveland, was presented by Dr. Ahmad Chami at a conference, and revealed an association between marijuana abuse and heart attacks, regardless of other risk factors.
Over 210,000 patients with cannabis abuse noted in their charts were compared to a similar group of non-marijuana abuser controls. The link between marijuana abuse and heart attacks was strongest in young adults. For those aged 25 to 29 there was a 3-fold increased risk of heart attack; for those aged 30 to 34 there was a 4-fold increase in heart attacks. It suggests the older a user gets, the greater the risk becomes.
These shocking results were questioned by some conference attendees, with questions about how the study was conducted, how "marijuana abuse" is defined, as well as questions about the technical and statistical treatment of the study's data. Dr. Chami admitted that more research must be done, but stood firm on the apparent connection.
The doctor shared this new information with Wayne who immediately denied it was possible that his chest discomfort was due to his smoking weed. But on further questioning he did admit that the heartburn was occurring not long after smoking a joint.
When Wayne cajoled the doctor, explaining that he's been smoking pot for twenty-five years and hasn't had a problem yet, the doctor told him that as we age the organs and body parts that were once resilient become subject to insult.
This new discovery, the marijuana-heart attack link, the doctor explained is probably the result of many more people smoking pot since it's now legalized in twenty-nine states. The same phenomenon is seen with new prescription medications when they are released for mass consumption.
The doctor ordered a CT scan for calcium scoring, which is a scan of the heart to determine how much calcium/plaque exists in his heart. A high normal level is just under 400; Wayne's was borderline. So the doctor ordered a treadmill test. A heart catheterization will most likely be necessary.
Meantime, Wayne's last girlfriend moved to Florida; for now, he lives alone. Wayne didn't say but if his past is any indication of his future the good doctor is assuming Wayne will be making a trip to Amsterdam soon -- hopefully with a healthy heart.
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