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How much caffeine would it take to kill you?

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A South Carolina teenager collapsed in a high school classroom last month died because he drank several highly caffeinated drinks too quickly, a coroner says. Dr. Peter Lin, CBC Medical Contributor, looks at the side effects of caffeine with Heather Hiscox.

David cripe collapsed in his high school classroom last month now the coroner said he died of a cardiac event arrhythmia caused by drinking several caffeinated drinks in quick succession witnesses say davis greif down the mcdonald’s latte a large mountain dew and a 16 ounce energy drink chugged it all of that in under two hours the autopsy revealed no pre-existing

Heart condition dr. peter lin is our medical contributor and he’s in because as i said this caught our eye the coroner who did the autopsy acknowledged dr lin that his findings would be both controversial and troubling and they are as i sit here with one of the many coffees i consumed over the course of the day many people drink a lot of caffeine you know is this

Going to kill me yeah and that’s a big question that we have i mean our condolences to the family but then we start turning to ourselves and how much caffeine we’re taking it now we do know that caffeine will make your heart beat faster it makes your blood pressure go up but what happens is the amount of caffeine that you take in so i looked it up you know people

Say 400 milligrams a day is safe 5,000 milligrams is when it’s toxic for example and so he was nowhere near any of those numbers so let’s say in your coffee right now there might be 150 milligrams of caffeine so when you say the safe level is about 4 or 500 500 of cost very safe it’s the 5,000 levels that were having so he was nowhere near any of that so that’s

When people started to say maybe it’s not the amount but how fast we drank it in other words if we take that over a day no big deal it’s like when you report whether you know rain over a day 30 millimeters no problem but in 20 minutes that would be a big problem with flooding that’s the same thing that might happen in the heart if i give you a lot of caffeine all

At the same time could i cause that rhythm and the rhythm that we’re afraid of is where the heart no longer squeezes and beats properly so normally the electrical system kicks down your heart beats the blood goes out but what happens if the heart starts to shake fibrillation in which case there’s no blood going out nothing goes to the head they pass out and that’s

When you have that sudden death house okay so that was it as you said they slammed essentially all of that caffeine in a two-hour span no existing precondition as far as his heart was concerned but our there any other risk factors that people should be aware of i mean different amounts of caffeine affect different people differently right and then there are some

Families that have the electrical system doesn’t work very well so we have these families where even a small amount of caffeine may trigger that heart to go faster and so on and so forth and so that’s why we ask in the in the heart world we say did anybody suddenly die within your family or was there any unexplained deaths because those give us a tip-off that maybe

The electrical system is not working well when they checked his heart they were checking for structural things was a valve problem as the muscle damage or anything like that but it’s very hard to check the electrical system because it’s no longer working right so when he was alive and they did an ecg maybe they could have seen it but perhaps now they will never know

Whether that’s happening along the way so there might be some families out there very rare but if they have somebody that passed away suddenly or unexplained those are the people where we want to check their electrical system and maybe more sensitive to the caffeine than let’s say you are ok so family history think about that i mean the findings are non conclusive

In terms of just how much caffeine is safe and it varies doesn’t children know i know women know all of those little caveats but give us some overall advice so that we can be reassured what is considered sort of safe reasonable caffeine consumption yes if you look around they’re saying four hundred five hundred milligrams per day over the whole day so i think the

First thing to do is know that you know how much is in your drink so in his case he was drinking mountain dew and all these other things so in other words know how many milligrams there are and then spaced it out in other words giant guzzle it now hot coffee is very hard for us to guzzle all the way down life but unfortunately you know when it gets cold i’ve seen

People i don’t want to waste it so they just swallow the whole thing so maybe let’s not swallow the whole thing slow it down space it out over a day as opposed to compressing everything and that way we’ll be safe so you can still enjoy your coffee without worrying that this is going to cause a problem if ever when you drink coffee you feel your heart beating fast

That’s a sign that it is affecting your heart so slow it down space it out again okay perfect and yeah that’s good slowly slow and watch alright thank you very much appreciate your coming in dr. lynn with us this one

Transcribed from video
How much caffeine would it take to kill you? By CBC News