Heart Attack Blamed on Failure to Warn About Massive Consumption of Red Bull

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Surprised at his sudden heart attack (but then, I guess, who isn’t?), an Australian whose heart stopped after he drank eight Red Bulls in five hours is blaming the company for not warning about what might happen.  The labels do warn not to drink more than two cans a day, but he says they should have specifically warned that doing so could lead to death.

Matthew Penbross is only 28, has no family history of heart disease, and is apparently in good shape.  But he collapsed after a motocross event he was competing in last Sunday, and paramedics had to use a defibrillator to revive him.  A cardiologist attributed his attack to "excessive consumption of energy drinks."  Penbross is also a smoker and told the doctor he had experienced chest pain after drinking Red Bull before, when his intake had been "high."

Higher, apparently, than his average of four cans a day, twice the amount stated on the labels as a maximum.  "With the work I do I don’t have a lot of time to eat," Penbross said. "I have a couple of Red Bulls in the morning and it carries me through."  Until his next two Red Bulls, or a heart attack, whichever comes first.  Each can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of "caffeine," a substance you may have heard of since it is also found in coffee, tea, and other substances that humanity has been consuming for thousands of years as "stimulants."  Stimulants stimulate, among other things, the heart, which is great, apart from the stress they place on it, which can cause it to stop.

Penbross said that he went with eight Red Bulls before his event "to get a bit of a buzz and keep down my reaction time.  You have got to get off [the mark] and around the first corner first."  Had he known he might die, however, he might have settled for getting off the mark a little more slowly.  At least, that’s what he claimed recently when he complained that the company’s warning labels were inadequate.

He admitted that the labels warned him not to drink more than two Red Bulls a day (he averaged four), but said they should have said exactly what could happen.  "They say [on energy drink labels] don’t have more than this much . . . [b]ut they don’t say if you have too much, what will happen."  Now that he knows what can happen, he says, he’s done drinking Red Bull.

A spokeswoman for Red Bull said she was unable to comment on pending litigation, and then commented on pending litigation by saying that the product label was clear and met standards set by the government.

Link:  Sydney Morning Herald