A South Carolina teen has reportedly died due to side effects of a caffeine overdose, after drinking a combination of various caffeinated beverages that are readily available to teens nationwide, including energy drinks, coffee and soft drinks.
The Richland County Coroner’s Office in South Carolina issued a press release on May 15, announcing the findings of an investigation into the death of 16 year old Davis Allen Cripe.
Cripe died from sudden heart problems on April 26, after friends say he consumed numerous caffeinated beverages throughout the course of one day, including at least one energy drink, coffee, and soft drinks. Coroner Gary Watts has identified that the drinks included a large diet Mountain Dew and a cafe latte from McDonald’s, but the energy drink has not been identified by witnesses or reports.
“The final cause of death was determined to be due to a caffeine-induced cardiac event causing probably arrhythmia,” Coroner Gary Watts wrote. He held a news conference detailing his findings on Monday.
Watts said there was no indication that Cripe had an undiagnosed heart condition, and warned that energy drinks and other highly caffeinated beverages could be “very dangerous” and that he was warning his own friends and family not to consume energy drinks.
Watts said that what killed Cripe was the amount of caffeine he consumed, particularly in comparison to his body weight. He exceeded what is considered a safe level of caffeine consumption, which caused a heart arrhythmia. Watts also said that he understood that some people are skeptical of caffeine overdose risks, but indicated he hoped that the incident results in people becoming more aware of the risks of caffeine overdose.
Cripe’s death came on the same day that a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association indicated that those who consumed energy drinks experienced abnormal heart rhythms and prolonged elevated blood pressure, saying that the risks of energy drinks were different than just consuming caffeine alone.
According to the findings, two hours after consuming the drinks, those who were given the energy drink showed changes in the QT intervals of the heart, which affects the heart’s rhythm. Those changes were not seen in caffeine drinkers.
Energy Drink Health Concerns
A study published in March by Australian researchers also linked caffeinated energy drinks to heart problems that can cause rapid, irregular heartbeats in some consumers. The effects could result in fainting, seizures and even sudden death, the researchers warned.
Several studies have found that consumption of only a couple energy drinks over a several week period can cause increased blood pressure and heart arrhythmias, which can cause long-term heart problems.
In March 2016, the American Heart Association indicated that the overuse of energy drinks could cause increased heart problems including heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest and other potentially life-threatening complications.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in November 2015, found that consuming just one can of Rockstar energy drink led to an increased risk of heart problems and high blood pressure among young, healthy adults.
The FDA is currently investigating health concerns surrounding the drinks, after a number of adverse event reports were submitted in recent years connecting energy drinks to severe injuries and deaths.
According to information released in 2012, at least 37 adverse event reports had been received by the FDA involving health problems from Monster Energy drinks, including at least six deaths.
Amid aggressive marketing by the manufacturers, energy drink sales increased 240% between 2004 and 2009, and the number of caffeine overdose emergency room visits increased from 1,128 in 2005 to 16,055 in 2008. Approximately 56% of those visits involved individuals between the ages of 12 and 25 years.
In recent years, a number of energy drink lawsuits have been filed on behalf of otherwise healthy young adults who suffered sudden heart problems within hours after drinking the beverages, alleging that the manufacturers placed their desire for profits before the safety of consumers.