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Energy drink-induced cardiomyopathy

Case of energy drink-induced cardiomyopathy and kidney failure.

Red Bull is the third top selling beverage in the world after Coca Cola and Pepsi. This could be because the energy drink’s marketing mantra revolves around boosting energy, mental and physical performance. Energy drinks are carbonated beverages that contain caffeine and other energy boosting compounds, such as, taurine. However, drinking too much could be life-threatening. The lethal dose of caffeine is in the neighbourhood of 400 mg per day. Each can of energy drink contains 160 mg of caffeine. Therefore, drinking more than 8.4 ounces of energy drinks a day can cause negative side effects including nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, anxiety, rapid heart rate, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and seizures. Such as the case of 21-year-old, Tom Hale, who drank 4 cans of energy drink a day for two years, resulting in energy drink-induced cardiomyopathy.

Hale presented to the intensive care unit at a hospital in London with a 4-month history of weight loss, shortness of breath and breathlessness while lying down. He had long been suffering with heart palpitations, tremors and indigestion, but did not seek any medical help.

He continued to drink 500 milliliter cans of energy drink every day. Despite the fact that the excessive amount of energy drinks were taking a toll on his mental and physical health. In addition, he even dropped out of university because the energy drinks made it difficult for him to concentrate.

However, every time he tried to go cold turkey, he suffered from severe migraine headaches. This made it even tougher to quit the energy drinks.

He was habitually chugging down 640 mg of caffeine in a day, eventually admitting to the ICU. “I was eventually admitted to the ICU. This experience was extremely traumatizing for several reasons. First, I was suffering from delirium, I had memory problems to such an extent I could not remember why I was in the ICU. Second, I was constantly scared because I was struggling to move or speak, this eventually led to insomnia; I often would not fall asleep until early morning,” Hale explained. 

He further added, “finally, I often became frustrated when I couldn’t think of the words to say when I wanted something and this often led to me becoming overwhelmed with emotions such as anxiety and depression.” 

Doctors advised further medical tests including, blood tests, scans and an ECG. The test results showed that the patient was suffering from energy-drink induced cardiomyopathy and kidney failure. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and can increase heart activity. It has further been linked to cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle weakens and the heart is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body. Energy drinks also increase blood pressure which causes problems with heart rhythm, leading to heart failure in the long run.

His condition was so severe that he had to be referred for kidney and heart transplantation. Although, fortunately, his cardiac symptoms improved with conservative treatment and totally cutting energy drinks.


Energy drink-induced cardiomyopathy

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Dr. Aiman Shahab is a dentist with a bachelor’s degree from Dow University of Health Sciences. She is an experienced freelance writer with a demonstrated history of working in the health industry. Skilled in general dentistry, she is currently working as an associate dentist at a private dental clinic in Karachi, freelance content writer and as a part time science instructor with Little Medical School. She has also been an ambassador for PDC in the past from the year 2016 – 2018, and her responsibilities included acting as a representative and volunteer for PDC with an intention to make the dental community of Pakistan more connected and to work for benefiting the underprivileged. When she’s not working, you’ll either find her reading or aimlessly walking around for the sake of exploring. Her future plans include getting a master’s degree in maxillofacial and oral surgery, settled in a metropolitan city of North America.


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