New Year’s resolutions means setting fitness targets for nearly 50 percent of Americans, but just how far is too far when it comes to reaching your goals?
Daphne Buxman-Carley of Greenville, Wisconsin, is warning others to be careful when consuming pre-workout drinks for an extra boost at the gym after her husband collapsed on the treadmill last March and ended up in a coma for several days.
“These have become such a big deal within the past couple of years – they’re all over the place now,” Buxman-Carley told InsideEdition.com. “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.”
Her husband, Kevin Carley, 42, had taken a pre-workout drink one Saturday morning before heading to the local YMCA. He started with a quick warm-up before hitting the treadmill. Minutes later, Carley went into cardiac arrest.
“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,” Carley told InsideEdition.com. “That’s all I remember. The next thing I knew, it was Monday.”
Buxman-Carley, who had gotten to the gym earlier than her husband that morning, said when she found out what had happened, paramedics were already at the scene beginning CPR.
“He was very combative, they couldn’t keep an oxygen mask on him,” she recalled. “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.”
At the time, Buxman-Carley taught a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class at their local YMCA, and her husband also attended the class on occasion. Otherwise, the couple was going to the gym five or six times a week, doing a healthy mixture of weight training and cardio, and eating healthy in preparation for their big trip to Florida with the kids.
Doctors eventually put Carley in a medically induced coma but they still couldn’t figure out how he collapsed until they emptied his stomach.
“When we intubated him, there was like green liquid, like slime, that shot out of his mouth,” Buxman-Carley said. “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.”
She said she had no idea what he could have ingested, until she remembered spotting a container of green pre-workout powder inside his locker at the gym.
After Carley gained consciousness, doctors spent the next week or so running different tests. When all the tests came back normal, doctors determined the pre-workout drink must have played a role his cardiac arrest.
Dr. Peter Weiss, interventional cardiologist at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, speculated that taking he supplement early in the morning may have played a role in Carley’s cardiac arrest.
“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,” he explained. “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.”
Weiss said he acknowledges the benefits of supplements, he suggested something simpler, like having a cup of coffee before going to the gym.
Carley survived the incident with a stern warning from his doctor to stay away from pre-workout drinks and to take it easy at the gym, but Cassondra Reynolds’ husband was not so lucky.
John Reynolds of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, died in 2011 at 41 years old after an energy drink sent him into cardiac arrest.
“I want people to know it really only takes one drink,” Cassondra told InsideEdition.com of her late husband. “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.”
She explained her husband came home from work one afternoon, gasping for air.
“I was watching him turn from blue to gray when my kids walked in,” Cassondra said. “I felt his soul leave his body right there in my bedroom.”
Her husband had just done a full physical examination the month before and passed with flying colors. John, too, worked out nearly every day and was told his heart was strong for his age.
Cassondra said her husband, who worked as a mechanic, only drank one or two energy drinks a day, but the doctors said it was enough to disrupt his heart.
After relentless brain seizures, medically induced comas and eventually brain damage, John passed away.
“I just couldn’t wrap my head around it,” Reynolds said. “It was one drink, how could it be?”
Weiss explained while many are familiar with the effects of caffeine, most energy drinks or pre-workout drinks also contain chemicals like taurine and guarana that are less understood, especially by the everyday person.
“Not just pre-workout drinks, but even pills available can deliver as much caffeine as 23 or 30 or even 100 cups of coffee all at once,” Weiss explained. “And added with some of these ingredients, it’s really hard to get a sense for the effect this might have one someone.”
Coffee, however, is a product that can give someone a similar effect and has more widely known side effects.
“When somebody ingests stimulants, whether it’s caffeine or any others, it basically mimics the effects of adrenaline in the body,” Weiss explained. “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.”
Weiss also suggested that while he always recommends working out and staying active, it’s also important to remember to stay within your physical limits.
“If people really want to work out, say, ‘Hey it’s New Year’s, I’m going to get healthy,’ that’s amazing,” Buxman-Carley said “Just stay away from any sort of energy drinks and supplements.
"You don’t need that to go work out.”