Sixteen-year-old David Allen Cripe collapsed at school after drinking a McDonald’s latte, a large diet Mountain Dew, and an energy drink in just under two hours. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead two hours later. Cripe didn’t have a diagnosed heart condition and had no family history of heart problems, but the excessive amount of caffeine triggered a sudden cardiac arrhythmia (an abnormal heart rhythm). During an arrhythmia, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the brain and other organs, which can cause them to shut down. Doctors say 12- to 18-year-olds shouldn’t drink more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day (about one cup of regular coffee) and should avoid energy drinks altogether.
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