A content creator revealed her caffeine addiction left her with a deadly heart condition at just 21.
Rachel Finley, a skincare and beauty influencer, started drinking up to eight shots of espresso a day in college, plus caffeine pills.
She started suffering heart palpitations throughout the night but put it down to stress.
She was eventually diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat that can damage the heart and brain and lead to life-threatening stroke, heart failure, or cardiac arrest.
Caffeine can cause the heart to beat faster, leading to palpitations or skipped beats, which can lead to the development of a consistently irregular heartbeat.
Rachel Finley, a skincare and beauty influencer, used to drink up to eight shots a day plus caffeine pills, she said
She told her 200,000 TikTok followers: ‘I started drinking espresso shots in high school because I thought it was cooler than getting a latte.
‘It got really bad in college when I started working at a restaurant. They had a coffee bar in the restaurant that my friend worked at so I was drinking like six to eight shots a day.
‘I just loved the way it made me feel.’
‘Yes my family does have a history of addiction,’ she added.
‘At that point I was up all night with palpitations and I was just like “Oh it’s probably because I’m stressed.”
‘I was not putting two and two together, clearly.’
Rachel admitted that she would be so tired after her shifts that she would take caffeine pills so she could stay up and go out.
‘There I was, so tired and not being able to sleep because my palpitations were keeping me awake. And then I would just have more caffeine, rinse and repeat,’ she said.
‘I go to the cardiologist. Turns out I’ve given myself an arrhythmia at 21 years old.’
An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat, which happens when the electrical signals that tell the heart to beat don’t work properly.
The heart may beat too quickly or too slowly, or the pattern may be inconsistent.
If not treated, they can damage the heart, brain, or other organs, which can lead to a fatal stroke, heart failure, or cardiac arrest.
Drinking too much caffeine can be a cause of arrhythmias, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Stimulants such as caffeine can cause the heart to beat faster, meaning it can cause palpitations or skipped beats, which can lead to the development of more serious arrhythmias.
Caffeine is also known to increase a person’s blood pressure and heart rate for a temporary period of time.
‘I basically had to cut caffeine out of my life forever,’ Rachel said. ‘So if you’re on your third Celsius today, keep that in mind.’
‘All I want is a Red Bull, and it will kill me,’ she added.
But the majority of research has not found a link between caffeine consumption and arrhythmias.
In fact, a study in 2020 found that regular coffee consumption was actually associated with a lower risk of arrhythmias.
Researchers led from the University of California, San Francisco analysed the impact of coffee consumption on arrhythmia incidence among more than 380,000 people.
They found that every additional cup one consumes on a daily basis appears to lower the risk of developing an irregular heart rhythm by three percent.
It is still unclear whether consistent coffee drinking can cause long-term increases in blood pressure, cholesterol or other harmful effects to the heart.
Roughly one in 18 people, or five percent of the American population has an arrhythmia.
President Joe Biden has a type of arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation. This is caused by extremely fast and irregular beats from the upper chamber of the heart.
It can lead to dangerous complications including blood clots, and it also increases the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
In total, Rachel was consuming around 700mg of caffeine a day, considerably more than the FDA’s recommendation that healthy adults have no more than 400mg a day – about four or five cups of coffee.
Caffeine addiction is the excessive and harmful use of caffeine over a period of time, and an inability to control caffeine use despite negative effects, such as palpitations.
It can cause sleep disorders, as well as dizziness, shakiness, headaches, raised blood pressure, nervousness and heartbeat abnormalities.
It comes as fast food joint Panera Bread faces a third lawsuit for the allegedly harmful effect of its highly caffeinated ‘Charged Lemonade’ drink.
A 28 year-old Rhode Island woman is suing the chain, alleging the beverage left her with long-term heart problems.
Lauren Skerritt, an athlete, drank two-and-a-half Charged Lemonades at a Panera location in Greenville, Rhode Island, in April last year, according to the lawsuit.
After drinking the lemonade, Skerritt allegedly experienced new episodes of palpitations and dizziness.
Scans later showed that she was suffering atrial fibrillation — an irregular heartbeat that can lead to a stroke and heart failure, according to the lawsuit.
This case follows the tragic death of a 21 year-old Pennsylvania college student, who, according to court documents, suffered a fatal cardiac arrest after consuming the lemonade – which contains 390 milligrams of caffeine.
The student, Sarah Katz from New Jersey, drank a 30-ounce cup of ‘Charged Lemonade’ from fast food joint Panera Bread, which contains more caffeine than a Red Bull and Monster energy drink combined.
Ms Katz suffered a serious heart rhythm condition called long QT syndrome, which causes the heart to beat irregularly (arrhythmia).