Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Energy Drinks Pack-A-Punch: A Personal Reflection

Recently, I was rushed to the ER for chest pains, swelling of the throat, and shortness of breath. Prior to this emergency trip to the hospital, I had been cramming all day and night studying for school. During this study session, I had also consumed a couple of Mountain Dews, a Red Bull energy drink, and a 5-Hour Energy shot.

The ER Visit: Chest pains, swelling of the throat, and shortness of breath --- all classic symptoms of a heart attack. Although I am a healthy and fit young man, I was so worried about my physical condition that I telephoned an on-call physician at 1 A.M. to see what I should do about my situation. I was to the point that I was afraid if I fell asleep that I wouldn’t wake up due to heart attack. The doctor highly recommended that I go to the ER. As soon as I arrived at the ER, the nurses hooked me up to all of their machines and checked my vitals.  The doctors conducted blood tests, EKGs, and X-rays to help determine my medical situation.

The Diagnosis: I was diagnosed with heart arrhythmia as well as acute viral pharyngitis. The symptoms of the arrhythmia and virus combined to give me signs similar to that of a heart attack: increased/pounding heart rate, weakness, fatigue, clammy skin, and panic. And with my throat being so swollen from the virus, breathing was a difficult process that caused my chest to hurt as well. The doctor stated that my high intake of caffeine was most likely the contributing factor of the heart arrhythmia.

The Moral to the Story: The moral of this story is that energy drinks and caffeinated drinks should be consumed in moderation. There are some health benefits to energy drinks when it comes to consuming the taurine, ginseng, and other supplements. Italian researchers found that “Energy drinks containing caffeine and taurine boost heart function in healthy people. Function in the left and right ventricles, which pump blood to the body, increased one hour after consuming an energy drink, according to the researchers, who used echocardiography on 35 healthy people with an average age of 25.” (Connolly, 2012). Though this may be just one study out of many, people need to moderate their intake of energy drinks and other energy supplements.


  1. I'm glad that you emphasize the importance of moderation! Caffeine is great if you need a little pick me up, but too much of a good thing is often bad. I cannot tell you how many students come into the CERF lab and have had abnormal ECG's because they have consumed a large amount of caffeine. It is kind of scary to actually see the effect that the caffeine is having on the heart.

  2. Energy drinks are very dangerous in my opinion yet I still use drink them. Although I drink energy drinks I am smart about it because I can feel my heart sometimes over working. As an athlete I found it very stupid that players would take energy drinks even with all the warnings out there about them. As I a coach who works 16 to 18 hour days I sometimes need something to give me a boost but never to the amount that you took. Life is fragile and I would never want to do anything to jeopardize my life.