FOX Focus: Energy Drinks and Health Problems

Lots of people use energy drinks for a quick boost, but doctors say the intense fix may not be worth the health risk.

James Marois has an empty shelf in his fridge where he used to keep all kinds of energy drinks.

He sipped two to five cans a day, until the chest pains came.

“I had pain in my chest and it was hard for me to breath,” recalls James.

“I’d have to take deep breaths a lot just to catch my breath.”

The 26 year old says he thought he was in good health, until he began experiencing an irregular heartbeat. It was bad enough that his girlfriend Annie rushed him to the hospital.

Doctors couldn’t get James’ heart rhythm under control. They told him the only way they could was to literally stop his heart, and then zap it with electricity to restart it.

“That’s scary to watch,” says Annie, “someone you love go through that and they may not wake up.”

Fortunately James did wake up, and he can joke about the experience now.

“I had a shocking experience.”

But, he also feels fortunate to be alive.

Last month a teen girl in Maryland drank two energy drinks and suffered an irregular heartbeat, she didn't survive. The cause of her death was determined to be heart arrhythmia caused by toxic levels of caffeine.

Emergency Room Dr. Marvin Wayne says there’s no way to know just how much caffeine is in these drinks, because they contain several supplements that the body perceives as caffeine, and they are not regulated by the food and drug administration.

“The reality is people have no idea what they’re actually drinking. Five-hour energy, Red Bull, Monster drinks, all of these different things but all of them have a different proportion of different things in them."

Several studies have found that people who drink two or more energy drinks a day have an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. For some people, like James, that can cause life threatening problems.

“I really dodged a bullet this time.”

Doctors told him he should give up energy drinks, advice he took to heart.

James says he's dealing with caffeine withdrawal and he hates the headaches, but he's learning to love water.