Everyone wants to blame Red Bull.
But was Red Bull to blame?
Here's how the press painted the episode:
Mr Penbross, a concreter, regularly had four Red Bull drinks a day.For the record, Redbull contains the about same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee:
"With the work I do I don't have a lot of time to eat," he said. "I have a couple of Red Bulls in the morning and it carries me through."
Last Sunday he was competing in a motocross event near Port Macquarie when he consumed eight Red Bulls over five hours.
"It was to get a bit of a buzz and keep down my reaction time," he said. "You have got to get off [the mark] and around the first corner first."
After his event, Mr Penbross, from Bonny Hills, noticed his heart racing. He collapsed soon after.
He was taken to Port Macquarie Hospital before being flown to Newcastle.
A 7 oz cup of coffee has the following caffeine (mg) amounts, according to Bunker and McWilliams in J. Am. Diet. 74:28-32, 1979:Sure, too much caffeine can cause the heart to race. And some studies have suggested it raises blood pressure, but at least one long term study did not substantiate this effect. And over five hours, about half of his caffeine had metabolized, provided he had a normal liver. Most reported deaths from caffeine overdose (usually from pills) have occurred with 50-100 times the amount of caffeine as this man ingested.
Espresso 100mg of caffeine
1 serving (1.5-2oz)
So was caffeine really the CAUSE? Of was it a mere bystander? We will probably never know.
But I was also intrigued by the part of the article that mentioned what his cardiologist had said:
He said Mr Penbross had no other risk factors apart from smoking and had told him he previously experienced chest pain at times when his intake of the drinks was high.Now I never saw this dude, but given this story, one wonders about previously undiagnosed coronary disease as the cause of his cardiac arrest. Oh, sure, the Red Bull might have increased the heart's requirement for oxygen if his rate or blood pressure increased, but the lack of delivery of oxygen around an area of fixed obstruction from a plaque is more likely what made a young man's heart fibrillate and develop full cardiac arrest.
I wonder: did anyone suggest this man stop smoking?