Drinking only soda for about half her life a 31-year old woman now has heart problems that causes fainting, a report of her case states.
The woman, who lives in a small country near southern France, Monaco, was brought to a hospital after she fainted. A blood test showed she had severely low potassium levels. And a test of her heart's electrical activity revealed she had a condition called long QT syndrome, which can cause erratic heart beats.
The woman did not have a family history of heart or hormone problems. But she told her doctors that, since the age of 15, she had not drunk any water — soda (specifically cola) was the only liquid she consumed. She drank about 2 liters (2 quarts) of cola daily, she said.
After abstaining from soda for just one week, the woman's potassium levels and heart electrical activity returned to normal.
Drinking too much cola may cause excess water to enter the bowels, which in turn leads to diarrhea, and loss of potassium, the researchers said. High amounts of caffeine can also increase urine production and decrease potassium reabsorption, the researchers said. Potassium plays a role in helping a person's heartbeat, and low levels of potassium may cause heart rhythm problems.
It is not the first time of such diagnosis, the researchers found six reports of excessive cola consumption that were thought to be related to adverse medical problems, including heart rhythm problems.
Future studies should examine whether those who drink cola excessively have lower potassium levels than people who don't drink cola, the researchers said.
Excessive soda consumption can also lead to weight gain, which is a risk factor for heart disease, the researchers said.