A 16-year-old South Carolina high school student was reported to have died of heart problems after consuming too much caffeine. Circumstances did not agree with Davis Cripe, who has no pre-existing heart condition that could have caused him to collapse and die in a classroom in April.
According to the Associated Press via The Washington Post, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said that Cripe drank a large Mountain Dew, a McDonald's latte and an energy drink in the two hours before his heart failed at Spring Hill High School on April 26. At a news conference, CBS Tampa quoted Watts to have said, "We lost Davis from a totally legal substance." He added, "It was so much caffeine at the time of his death, that it caused his arrhythmia."
Arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm, usually causes the heart to have difficulty pumping enough blood to the body. The lack of blood flow eventually affects the brain, heart and other organs. Often, like in Cripe's case, it can even cause death.
Watts also noted that the teen's death should serve as a warning for parents. They should take note that while a can of soda or a cup of coffee is okay for teens to consume, large amounts of caffeine can be deadly.
Sean Cripe, the teen's father, told CNN that he hopes, if nothing else comes out of his son's death, at least parents and children will realize the dangers that can be brought about by caffeinated beverages. "Parents, please talk to your kids about the dangers of these energy drinks," he stated.
Adolescents are not supposed to drink too much caffeine. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends adolescents aged 12 to 18 to consume less than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day. Intake greater than this can be associated with elevated blood pressure in adolescents.