21-Year-Old Man Nearly Dies of Heart Failure After Drinking Four Energy Drinks a Day

Illustration for article titled 21-Year-Old Man Nearly Dies of Heart Failure After Drinking Four Energy Drinks a Day

Photo: Tolga Akmen / AFP (Getty Images)

A young man’s years of heavy energy drink consumption nearly killed him, doctors in the UK say. In a new report this week, they detail how the man developed heart failure likely linked to his habit of drinking four energy drinks a day for two years straight. Though he was admitted to the intensive care unit as a result, he fortunately survived.

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According to the report, published Thursday in BMJ Case Reports, a 21-year-old UK man had gone to a local hospital with complaints of feeling out of breath and abdominal swelling. His symptoms, which also included weight loss, tremors, a racing heartbeat, and general fatigue, had begun four months earlier and were getting progressively worse. His health had deteriorated such that he had stopped going to school three months earlier. Tests soon revealed that the man had both heart and kidney failure, to the point of damaging his brain and causing delirium.

The man denied using alcohol or other drugs, and nothing else in his family history seemed to indicate a unique vulnerability to heart issues. But he did describe regularly guzzling down energy drinks, up to four 500-milliliter cans per day for the past two years.

Eventually, the doctors concluded that the man’s heart failure was most likely caused by his heavy energy drink consumption, which had probably been slowly damaging his heart over time. His kidney failure, on the other hand, was caused by a chronic blockage of urine in both his kidneys and urethra but was likely unrelated to his energy drink habit or the heart damage that followed.

Both conditions threatened to kill him without intensive treatment, and by day three after his admission, he was transferred to a specialized hospital. He would spend 58 days in the hospital, much of it on dialysis, but was eventually discharged in relatively decent health.

“There is no question that had his heart failure not been detected and treated, including the treatment of blood clots found in his heart when it was performing very poorly, he would have had a very high risk of death from either heart failure or potentially fatal stroke,” study author Andrew D’Silva, a cardiologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and researcher at King’s College London, told Gizmodo in an email.

As the authors note, this isn’t the first case of heart damage linked to energy drink use in young and seemingly healthy people. In 2012, doctors reported a similar case of a 24-year-old man whose heart failure required him to be put on a ventilator. And just last year, doctors reported a case in which a 26-year-old needed 10 months of treatment, including mechanical support, following heart failure linked to energy drinks.

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These cases do appear to be rare, but it’s still not clear how these drinks can contribute to heart damage. One likely culprit is the jumbo doses of caffeine that they provide per drink. Stimulants like caffeine can make the heart beat faster and more strongly than it would otherwise, D’Silva notes. But he also suspects that some people are just more susceptible to the negative health effects that can come with heavy caffeine use than others.

“In some individuals, when the heart beats faster than it needs to for a prolonged period of time, it can temporarily weaken the heart. In addition, if the heart is stimulated to beat stronger, it can become overstimulated and down-regulate its receptors to stimulants, including normal body hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, part of the normal ‘fight and flight response,’” he said. “This can result in a temporary weakness as the heart becomes less sensitive to normal controls.”

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For now, these possible explanations are still speculation. And overall, there needs to be more research done to investigate the link between energy drinks and heart problems, including figuring out whether some individuals are more vulnerable to it.

As for the young man, D’Silva said he’s doing very well, having since stopped his energy drink use. While his kidneys are still impaired, and he may ultimately need a transplant, his heart seems to be almost back to normal based on tests. He’s also able to walk for miles with no issues, and he’s no longer experiencing problems like shortness of breath or fluid retention. While there may be many unknowns about the dangers of energy drink use, he’s hoping people can learn from his experience.

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“I think there should be more awareness about energy drink[s] and the effect of their contents. I believe they are very addictive and far too accessible to young children,” the man wrote in an accompanying patient perspective. “I think warning labels, similar to smoking, should be made to illustrate the potential dangers of the ingredients in energy drink[s].”

Doctors should also be on the lookout for the possibility that energy drinks can cause these sort of heart issues, though only after extensive investigation to rule out other causes, D’Silva said.

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Twitter Launches Pro-Democracy Emoji for ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ in Asia

 Smoke rises from tires set alight by anti-coup protesters on April 03, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.

Smoke rises from tires set alight by anti-coup protesters on April 03, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

Twitter launched a new emoji early Thursday that will appear anytime a user tweets the hashtag #MilkTeaAlliance. The so-called Milk Tea Alliance refers to the pro-democracy movement in Asia that has been organized, at least in part, through actions online.

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“To celebrate the first anniversary of the #MilkTeaAlliance we designed an emoji featuring 3 different types of milk tea colors from regions where the Alliance first formed online,” the social media company tweeted from its account dedicated to public policy.

The Milk Tea Alliance includes Hong Kong, where activists are fighting for the preservation of some autonomy from the Chinese Communist Party; Myanmar, where a military coup in February ousted the democratically elected government; Taiwan, a country whose sovereignty comes under constant threat from Beijing; and Thailand, where the monarchy is further restricting civil rights.

“We have seen more than 11 million Tweets featuring the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag over the past year. Conversations peaked when it first appeared in April 2020, and again in February 2021 when the coup took place in Myanmar,” Twitter continued.

Security forces in Myanmar have killed over 600 civilians since the military coup earlier this year, including 11 people on Wednesday alone, according to the latest reports. At least 40 children have been killed by the junta, based on reporting by the New York Times, with one child as young as 10 slain by the brutal regime.

In its announcement, Twitter also pointed to other emojis developed to support social change, including emojis for the hashtags #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. Halfway through its tweet thread about the new emoji, Twitter more explicitly called for internet access to be maintained in places experiencing civil unrest and brutal government crackdowns.

“During times of civil unrests or violent crackdowns, it is more important than ever for the public to have access to the #OpenInternet for real-time updates, credible information, and essential services. #KeepitOn,” Twitter tweeted.

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One of the first things the military regime did after taking control of Myanmar in February was shut off Facebook in the country. And social media access has been highly disrupted ever since.

“Twitter recognizes that the #OpenInternet is increasingly under threat around the world. We strongly believe that having access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential right and remain a staunch defender and advocate of free expression and condemn #InternetShutdowns,” Twitter continued.

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The Super Thin and Lightweight Espresso Display Is a WFH Dream Come True

Illustration for article titled The Super Thin and Lightweight Espresso Display Is a WFH Dream Come True

Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo

At the start of our new work-from-home normal and before I was able to get my home office in order, the thing I immediately noticed was that I missed my office’s monitor setup. I have one now, but it’s a little hefty and doesn’t easily move around the various workstations of my apartment I switch between throughout the day. That means I’m either at my standing desk, or I’m stuck without a second display.

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This, of course, is hardly the worst problem to have as far as work-from-home woes. (Bad wifi certainly takes the cake there.) But if you’re a mover like I am, you may find that you’re at your desk in the morning, at your kitchen table in the afternoon, possibly at your couch for an hour during the day, and wherever else you’re able to go to help you focus on your tasks. That’s why I found that I adored the portability of the Espresso Display, a $299 screen that can move with you throughout the house and beyond thanks to it being super light and very thin—much like a tablet. In my tiny apartment, it allowed me to make any surface I was working at feel like a desk, and it helped the space of my workflow feel far less crowded when it wasn’t limited to just my 13-inch MacBook Air screen.

The Espresso display connects either by USB-C or HDMI and comes in two sizes: a 13-inch display and a 15-inch display. The larger of these two retails for $349, and if you can swing it, I think you’d be much happier dropping the extra $50 on the larger screen. While I love the 13-inch display, it did sometimes feel a little small—particularly compared to what I was used to with my larger Acer monitor. That’s especially true when you take into consideration the bezel that chews up about an inch of space toward the bottom of the screen, though less on the top and sides.

The picture on this screen is quite good and definitely one of the things I love most about it. You will likely have to play around with the color settings when it’s straight out of the box, though. I noticed the display I was shipped had a little bit of an orange tint to it, but I was able to easily fix this in display settings. The other thing to note is that it doesn’t get iPad-levels of brightness. I had the brightness cranked all the way up while I was testing it and it still seemed a little on the dimmer side. Though this, too, can be tinkered with a bit depending on your color settings. Just don’t expect any miracles.

But the thing that truly sold me on the Espresso is how light and thin it is at just 5.5 mm, as well as how easy it is to toss in a backpack. Once things start returning to normal, I can see myself bringing this portable display with me to work from a coffee shop (space allowing, of course). The design is thoughtful too, and it’s easily mounted several ways depending on which type of accessory you choose—though you will need to buy a mount yourself, and that’ll add at least another $49 for the Flip Case or $69 for the magnetic aluminum MountGo.

I loved the MountGo’s ability to be oriented with a tilt and adjusted for height. It just grips straight onto the back of the Espresso. And it folds up into a neat little square that can also easily be thrown in a bag. Obviously $69—while nice—for a mount is pretty pricey, especially when you consider how much you’re already dropping on a display that does one thing and not much else (as opposed to a tablet, for example). But I’m planning to buy the Espresso for myself and will probably splurge on the MountGo as well—I liked it that much.

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Again, this is an expensive work-from-home gadget given what it is. If portability isn’t something you need to worry about with your monitor setup, you may be better off spending your money on a larger display like the Dell UltraSharp 25 USB-C Monitor, which is fantastic and was discounted to $340 at the time of this writing. But if you’re a remote worker who finds yourself switching up your workstation throughout the day, I don’t think you’d be disappointed with the Espresso Display.

Allegations of Forced Monkey Labor Prompt Target to Pull Coconut Milk

Illustration for article titled Allegations of Forced Monkey Labor Prompt Target to Pull Coconut Milk

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

On Monday, Target became the latest retailer to stop selling Chaokoh coconut milk, according to a statement from PETA. In recent months, the animal rights organization has led a boycott campaign against Chaokoh claiming that it uses forced monkey labor to manufacture its product.

In the announcement, PETA’s Executive Vice President, Tracy Reiman, said, “PETA exposés have confirmed that Thai coconut producers are exploiting monkeys and lying about it, so there’s no excuse for any grocery store to keep Chaokoh on its shelves.” The organization applauded Target for joining “thousands of stores” that have agreed to break ties like Wegmans and Costco.

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In an emailed statement to Gizmodo, a Target spokesperson said, “we take seriously the claims made against Chaokoh, and given they were unable to sufficiently address the concerns raised, we made the decision to remove their product from our assortment in November 2020.”

Chaokoh told USA Today in November that it does not use monkey labor and pointed to a third-party audit that claimed to have randomly selected 64 out of 817 coconut farms for inspection and found no monkey’s harvesting coconuts.

PETA’s accusations stem from multiple investigations it conducted of the coconut-picking regions of Thailand. It reported that these coconut farms take monkeys from their mothers when they’re young, give them rigid metal collars, and chain them up. The monkeys are then reportedly trained to climb the trees in their general area and pull down the coconuts for collection. Monkeys who resist their captors are said to have their canine teeth removed. According to the investigation, some monkeys are required to hold down two jobs as their owners force them to participate in “circus-style shows.” (Video of the monkeys can be seen here, but animal lovers should be warned that it’s a huge bummer.)

PETA says that Brazil, Colombia, Hawaii, and some other regions get by just fine producing coconuts without forcing monkeys to do their bidding, and it maintains a list of brands that produce coconut water in an ethical manner. The activist organization said that it’s now turning its attention to pressuring a shrinking list of retailers it says are holding out.

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2,000-Year-Old Food Just Came Out of a Pompeii Snack Bar

An undated photo made available by the Pompeii Archeological park press office shows the thermopolium (fast-food shop) in the Pompeii archeological park, near Naples, Italy.

An undated photo made available by the Pompeii Archeological park press office shows the thermopolium (fast-food shop) in the Pompeii archeological park, near Naples, Italy.
Photo: Luigi Spina/Parco Archeologico di Pompei (AP)

Before its demise at the explosive hands of Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii was a bustling town with a strong agricultural economy and an appetite to match. Painted scenes and archaeological remains have long hinted at the diets of its doomed residents. On Saturday, the Pompeii Archaeological Park announced the excavation of one of the town’s thermopolium, or fast-food-and-drink spots, offering insights on what the joint served.

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“The remains of foodstuffs, including animal bones, match some of the paintings on the counter,” Virginia Campbell, an ancient historian and archaeologist at The Open University in England, wrote in an email. “There has always been speculation that the images of food match what was consumed, but this is unequivocal proof in one shop.”

Pompeii’s Regio V is the gift that keeps on giving. The mostly unexcavated area of about 54 acres comprises most of the town’s northern end and a bit of its southeastern portion. In 2018, a headless skeleton was found pinned under a huge stone (at first thought to be crushed under the rock, the skeleton’s skull was found soon after). Later that year, a charcoal scrawl was found preserved in the region’s House of the Garden—and it mentioned October 17, a day two months after the long-accepted eruption date of August 24, 79 CE, suggesting that we may have to revise the timing of the cataclysm. (A slew of some of the region’s other fascinating finds can be found here). The excavations in Regio V are employing state-of-the-art archaeological techniques that didn’t exist when other parks of Pompeii were being dug up.

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“We are getting information we’ve never had before all at once, rather than going back over old and sometimes not well-recorded materials and attempting to apply new techniques, sometimes with poor results,” Campbell wrote.

First excavated in 2019, the thermopolium in Regio V has turned up pantry items like amphorae (tall, two-handled containers) and flasks, the remains of duck, swine, goat, fish, and land snail, and bean residue at the bottom of a dolium, or jar. The extra-culinary finds included human and dog remains, as well as vivid frescoes on the sides of the thermopolium’s countertop. (The holes in the countertop were where the dolia were embedded). Bordered with mustard-yellow, the frescoes depict an inky-black dog on a leash and a steely-blue seahorse carrying a Nereid; a still life of strung-up mallard ducks and a reddish-brown rooster advertise some of what the food stall likely had on offer until its final day in operation.

The remains of a thermopolium at Herculaneum (a nearby town that suffered a similar fate as Pompeii) show how the dolia were built into the counter first, and then the counter built around the containers.

The remains of a thermopolium at Herculaneum (a nearby town that suffered a similar fate as Pompeii) show how the dolia were built into the counter first, and then the counter built around the containers.
Photo: Steven Ellis

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“My book has 163 [thermopolia],” Steven Ellis, an archaeologist at the University of Cincinnati and author of The Roman Retail Revolution, which goes long on the retail counters like the one recently unearthed, said in a phone call. “But guess what? Now it’s 164.”

Ellis says that the Regio V thermopolium (which would have gone by other names back then, like taberna, caupona, or popina) is unique for its frescos, its size and counter shape, and the size of its dolia. Since the last thermopolia were excavated about half a century ago, the Regio V site offers a glimpse at what such a storefront would have looked like back in 79CE, without the weathering and degradation of modern exposure.

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“They’re an invention of the early first century [CE],” Ellis said, “and we find so many of them at Pompeii, not just because Pompeii was destroyed overnight, but because Pompeii was a city of the first century [CE]; the halcyon of this urban form of retail sale.”

One human victim in the food-and-drink stall was estimated to be at least 50 years old at death and seems to have been lying on a bed in an inner chamber at the time of the eruption, based on nails and wood residue found underneath the remains. (It’s hard to say for sure, since 17th-century looters dug tunnels that disrupted the site). Bones of another individual were found inside a dolium; according to the park authorities, they were possibly placed there by the looters. A small dog’s remains were also discovered. The park said that the dog was an adult less than 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) at its shoulder, which suggests it was bred to be lap dog-sized.

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The dead dog can be distinguished from the canine fresco decorating the counter, the latter being a bigger dog. Around the border of the dog fresco was a Roman-era graffito, reading NICIA CINAEDE CACATOR—literally, “NICIAS [the subject of the insult] SHAMELESS SHITTER.” (It’s not nearly the only profanity scrawled by the Pompeians).

Even with the thermopolium long out of business, at least shitposting is still very much in style.

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