Eating or drinking a pre-workout product probably seems like a healthy option to most people, but Daphne Buxman-Carley of Greenville, Wisconsin wants to spread the word that ingesting pre-workout food or drinks can, in some cases, have fatal effects on the heart.
"These have become such a big deal within the past couple of years – they're all over the place now. Whether it's a trend or whether it sticks, I don't know, but more and more people have been having heart problems because of it."
On that fateful March morning, Daphne's husband, 42-year-old Kevin Carley, drank a pre-workout product before heading to the YMCA, as he almost always did. All was well through a warmup and, with nothing to fear, Carley then got on the treadmill.
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"I got 15 minutes into my run and that's when all of a sudden, just instantly, I couldn't breathe. I broke out in this cold sweat. That's all I remember. The next thing I knew, it was Monday."
Daphne found out about the incident as paramedics were giving her husband CPR:
"He was very combative, they couldn't keep an oxygen mask on him. He was ripping it off, constantly flailing around. The first responder, he asked me, 'Does he have seizures or any sort of medical issues?' At this point, we were the healthiest we've ever been."
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She was being truthful about their health: Buxman even taught a high-intensity interval training class at the YMCA. Kevin would sometimes attend these classes.
Altogether, the couple would go to the gym roughly 5-6 times a week, which made it even more surprising that Carley would experience a cardiac arrest.
Doctors, stumped as to the cause of his condition, put Kevin in a medically induced coma to save his life. They got their first clue as to his ailment when they pumped his stomach.
"When we intubated him, there was like green liquid, like slime, that shot out of his mouth. Even when he was still in a coma, there was something sucking out the green slime hours later. You would see it behind him, the green slime in a little container."
It was then that she remembered the small bag of pre-workout powder in his gym locker. A couple days later, after Kevin regained consciousness, doctors ran many tests to confirm their suspicion: the drink nearly cost him his life.
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Dr. Peter Weiss, interventional cardiologist at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, explains what may have made the pre-workout drink so dangerous in Carley's case:
"We know the body has a 24-hour cycle, so we have increased natural levels of things like cortisol, steroids and adrenaline and that sort of thing in our body early in the morning anyway. Then if you pile on a bunch of this artificial stimulant of unclear dose and push yourself athletically, you could potentially have increased risk of this sort of event occurring."
While such products do have their benefits, the doctor suggested eating or drinking other, less synthesized products before hitting the gym. Though it seems less healthy, he suggests a "cup of coffee:"
"When somebody ingests stimulants, whether it's caffeine or any others, it basically mimics the effects of adrenaline in the body. Unfortunately, these things are really not regulated. So we don't know much about the quality of the ingredients or the dosing other than what is being claimed on the package."
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Doctors warned Carley to stay away from pre-workout drinks in the future. They were very close to costing him his life, as they did for John Reynolds of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, who died in 2011 after going into cardiac arrest caused by an energy drink.
Cassondra Reynolds, the deceased's wife, commented to Inside Edition:
"I want people to know it really only takes one drink. I just don't want anyone else to go through what my sons and I go through. I don't want another family to be harmed by any of this. I just want people to understand that it can very very easily happen to them."
With Americans everywhere making resolutions to get in shape during 2019, Weiss wants to make sure everyone stays within the borders of what is healthy:
"If people really want to work out, say, 'Hey it's New Year's, I'm going to get healthy,' that's amazing. Just stay away from any sort of energy drinks and supplements. You don't need that to go work out."