Sydney man likely died from chewing herb

THE herbal stimulant, khat, which is reportedly being grown in Australia, likely caused the death of a 31-year-old man in Western Sydney, specialists say.

The man, originally from Djibouti, had a cardiac arrest after chewing khat, a plant favoured in East Africa and the Middle East that leads to increased alertness, euphoria and wellbeing.

In a letter to the Internal Medicine Journal, specialists said the man had become a heavy user of khat in the months before he died.

“The most likely explanation of events is that coronary vasospasm caused myocardial ischaemia, which in turn resulted in ventricular fibrillation,” they said.

They said the use of khat, as a chew or tea, had spread to Australia, being used by immigrants from Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia.