Picture this…you’re a mother (or father) of a 16 year old healthy young adult, and you get a phone call one day that says your child has passed away while on a vacation from a heart attack. Let’s go over the fine details here…16 year old, healthy, and heart attack. None of these words should ever be in the same sentence together, but they were. A family in Arizona received that phone call and had to deal with a very unfortunate death in their family. A girl was taken from this earth much too early…far before she was able to live out her life to the fullest potential. She was having a good time with her friends and wanted to keep her energy up so she self medicated through energy drinks.
The cause of this heart attack was likely from her continuous intake of energy drinks and not consuming water as the hot sun beat down on her while she was on the beach. Many people not only consume energy drinks to stay awake, but they also mix them with various types of alcohol or pills to add an extra ‘kick’ to the mix. This is even more dangerous and has been the cause of many ‘close calls’ and deaths around the world. A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that emergency room visits involving energy drinks doubled from 2007 to 2011 from about 10,000 to over 20,000. These hospital visits resulted from use of energy drinks alone and from energy drinks in combination with pharmaceuticals (including, for example, Adderall and Ritalin), alcohol, or illicit drugs.
These are very high numbers from something that is seen as just a beverage by most. The crazy thing is that there isn’t an age limit on purchasing these drinks. They come in the forms of cans, or “shots,” and I have even seen them as slushies to bring in younger kids. Then you have athletes drinking them before they begin the game, and kids think it’s some kind of super power within the liquid. It’s not; it’s a serious issue that was address several years ago but has since been forgotten.
Common heart related symptoms from energy drinks can be:
• Heart palpitations. According to one study, 19 percent of college students who used energy drinks had experienced heart palpitations.
• Increased heart rate and blood pressure. Energy drinks can increase heart rate and blood pressure, particularly in people who already have heart disease.
The risks associated with energy drinks are believed to be higher for people who have existing medical conditions, such as heart defects or certain heart conditions. Sometimes you aren’t aware of heart problems since they can be so minor, but many people have suffered long lasting damage from doing things that cause stress on their body, even if its as simple as taking a drink.
After reading up on energy drinks I don’t think they are something I would purchase for my child, or encourage them to drink them. Easy solutions for a lack of energy can be as simple as getting enough sleep at night, exercising, staying out of the heat as much as possible, and eating right. Don’t try an easy fix with an energy drink. You never know when your body has had enough until it’s too late. It strikes us young and old, so take care of yourself. Maybe, one day, energy drinks will have a purchase limit on them, or even an age limit at that.
By Kristen Harris