BROOKLYN, Mich. (WWJ) – A Michigan mother is calling for a school ban on energy drinks after too much caffeine sent her son to the emergency room.

sue halliwill Michigan Teen Hospitalized With Heart Trouble After Drinking Too Much Caffeine

Sue Halliwill’s son Alex. (Photo courtesy Sue Halliwill)

Sue Halliwill of Brooklyn, in Jackson County, said she was terrified when she got a call from a local hospital early Sunday morning.

“As a parent, I mean, it’s your worst nightmare,” she said, “to get a phone call that your child has been transported with complications due to his heart.”

Halliwill told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill her healthy, athletic 19-year-old son Alex had been drinking Mountain Dew on Saturday and was on his second Red Bull when his heart began racing.

“He felt like he was choking, couldn’t breathe, went into a full-blown panic attack, and they ended up calling an ambulance,” Halliwill said. “He thought he was having a heart attack.”

The teen’s blood pressure was 200/170 when EMS arrived.

“The tests showed because of the high levels of caffeine, his troponin levels, enzymes in his heart, were elevated. And that can cause severe heart problems,” Halliwill said.

Alex was discharged from the hospital after spending a day and-a-half in a Cardiac/Coronary Care Unit.

That said, doctors told him that if he didn’t cut down on the caffeine, he could end up with severe heart problems by the time he is 30.

Although Alex is expected to be OK,  Halliwill said it was a traumatic experience.

“He told me yesterday that all the way into the hospital he thought,’This is it, I’m going to die,'” and he was questioning, ‘What’s going to happen when I die? Where do I go?”

Sharing her story on Facebook, Halliwill urged parents to pay attention to what, and how much, their children are drinking.

“Think energy drinks won’t hurt you? Think again,” her post reads. “That video in Facebook that shows the heart beating after drinking an energy drink is REAL! STOP drinking this crap! It can kill you! Please say some prayers for my family. We thank GOD that Alex is going to be okay. Please feel free to share this post in order to help others learn from this.”

Halliwill said she is pushing Columbia Central High, which her two daughters attend, to ban the drinks.

“If they’re gonna sell nothing but healthy drinks in their vending machines, then they certainly shouldn’t allow these other drinks to be drank while at school,” she said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Halliwill’s Facebook post had been shared more than 2,200 times.

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Alex was in the hospital for a day and-a-half, rather than two and-a-half days. 


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