A mother-of-three whose husband died nine years ago following a cardiac arrest is raising awareness of the dangers of drinking even one energy drink per day, after a doctor warned her it is like ‘playing Russian roulette with your life’.
Cassondra Reynolds, 49, from California, lost her husband of 10 years and the father of her three children, John Reynolds, in 2011 when he suffered a cardiac arrest at the age of just 41.
As a mechanic, John often worked nights and would have an energy drink at the beginning of each shift to keep him alert, not realising the dangers of doing so.
Cassondra woke up on the morning of February 5, 2011, to hear her husband gasping for air in bed. She had to move him onto the floor, where she performed CPR before emergency services arrived three minutes later.
Terrified, Cassondra said she ‘couldn’t believe’ what was happening, adding: ‘I was in a state of panic and shock because I had no idea what was happening to my husband. I saw him turn from blue to grey and I was just praying that nothing would happen to him.’
John was rushed to hospital, where he was put into a medically-induced coma at the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. However, doctors were unable to save him and 14 days later he was pronounced brain dead, with Cassondra making the heart-breaking decision to switch off his life support machine.
The couple’s three sons were five, six and eight at the time their father’s life support machine was switched off, with Cassondra saying: ‘I let my children come and visit him to say their goodbyes. I asked the nurse to remove as many wires as possible so that they wouldn’t be scared.’
Prior to his cardiac arrest, Cassondra said John was ‘healthy’ and worked out every day, adding: ‘He had had a full physical examination the month prior and all his results came back fine.’
When he was rushed into hospital, she was told her husband’s sugar levels were ‘sky high’, with doctors asking her ‘all sorts of questions about his lifestyle, whether he took drugs and if he had any health issues’.
The head cardiologist came out and told me: ‘Your husband is a very fit man and his heart is strong like that of a 25-year-old.
‘It’s not normal for a healthy 41-year-old who doesn’t drink or smoke, who has what appears to be a strong heart and just had a physical with no findings, to suffer a cardiac arrest. We need to find what caused this.’
The doctor continued to ask Cassondra about the kinds of food John ate and what medication he was on, before finally asking whether he drank energy drinks.
I told him that yes he does, but only once a day before he goes to work because he has to work night shifts. He immediately explained that it only takes one energy drink to throw off the rhythm of your heart, causing a heart arrhythmia.
They began to put the pieces together, but I still couldn’t believe that one energy drink could cause this much pain. The doctor told me that drinking energy drinks is like playing Russian roulette with your life, and that really stuck with me.
Nine years on from her husband’s death, Cassondra is raising awareness of the damage energy drinks can cause, releasing a heart-breaking photograph of the last time her children saw their father in a bid to draw attention to the risks.
Almost a decade later, Cassondra is fighting to impose laws restricting the consumption of energy drinks and has launched The Awareness Project, a nonprofit organisation raising awareness about the dangers of energy drinks and pre-workout supplements.
If you suspect that your loved one has had an adverse reaction to these drinks, report it to your governing food agency. These drinks are not tested enough and there is no age limit in the US for who can buy these drinks.
It’s important people understand the dangers do not lay solely with the high caffeine and sugar content. It’s the synergistic effect when these substances are combined with the additional stimulants contained in energy drinks that appears to be causing so many cardiac issues.
I don’t want anyone to go through what me and my children have had to go through these past nine years; it doesn’t get any easier, you just learn how to cope with it.
A Facebook group started by Cassondra, Energy Drink and Pre-Workout Awareness, currently has almost 11,000 members, with many sharing similar stories about the devastating consequences of energy drinks.
The grieving widow says she has been unable to move on because her heart still ‘belongs to’ John, adding: ‘He was my only family, he was my everything and he was my soulmate and now he’s gone.’
Our thoughts go out to Cassondra and her three children as they continue to make their way in life without their loving husband and dad.
Rest in peace, John.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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