A 31-year old woman from Monaco was rushed to the hospital quite recently because she had dizzy spells and started fainting. She also suffered from heart arrhythmia, a condition where the heartbeat is irregular. The doctors examined her and also found out that she had very low potassium levels, which can be fatal in some cases.
The woman did not have a family history of heart or hormone problems. But she told her doctors that, since the age of 15, she had not drunk any water — soda (specifically cola) was the only liquid she consumed. She drank about 2 liters (2 quarts) of cola daily, she said.
Dangerous Effects of Drinking Cola Every Day
The woman experienced the following negative effects after avoiding water for 16 years:
• Unsafe Potassium Levels: According to the doctors, she only had 2.4 mmol/L of potassium in her blood, which is dangerously low for a woman her age.
• Fainting: The woman also suffered from severe dizzy and fainting spells.
• Arrhythmia: When her heartbeat was examined, it was learned that she had a lengthened interval of Q and T waves, which denote severe heart arrhythmia. Thankfully, she was sent to the hospital before her arrhythmia could claim her life. Her QT interval was around 610 milliseconds while the normal QT interval should not go over 450 milliseconds.
After abstaining from soda for just one week, the woman’s potassium levels and heart electrical activity returned to normal.
“One of the take-home messages is that cardiologists need to be aware of the connection between cola consumption and potassium loss,” said study researchers Dr. Naima Zarqane, of Princess Grace Hospital Centre in Monaco, adding they also “ask patients found to have QT prolongation about beverage habits.”
After searching for other similar cases, the researchers found six reports of excessive cola consumption that were thought to be related to adverse medical problems, including heart rhythm problems.
Heart palpitations caused by potassium deficiencies can cause life-threatening problems, such as cardiac arrest. More understated, meanwhile, is the toll excess soda takes on the body, which can include weight gain. Over time, obesity puts people at greater risk for many other diseases.
The case report was presented this week at the European Heart Rhythm Association meeting in Athens, Greece.