The Dangers of Energy Drinks: St. Louis Rams LT Rodger Saffold's Near-Fatal Experience

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Energy drinks are generally formulated to deliver high concentrations of caffeine to generate a rush of energy.

This may be OK for the 9-to-5 desk jockey who needs extra oomph to get through the afternoon; but for the high-performing athlete grinding through an intense workout, a caffeine rush can cause dehydration, which can increase body temperature and heart rate.

As Dr. Lori Bestervelt reports in her article, "Raising a Red Flag on Some Energy Drinks," some energy drinks pose even higher risks due to the effects of other stimulants, such as guarana, green tea and ginseng. "When multiple stimulants are combined in one beverage, serious cardiovascular issues can occur," she states.

Rodger Saffold, St. Louis Rams left tackle and blindside protector of franchise quarterback Sam Bradford, knows all too well about those serious cardiovascular issues.

Saffold shared his story as a guest panelist at the National Athletic Trainers Association's 63rd Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposium. According to, the former Indiana Hoosier recalled a summer training session between his sophomore and junior years where, following a weightlifting session, his workout group decided to run the bleacher steps at Memorial Stadium.

After 10 sets, Saffold said, "I had chest pains, which I thought were just part of being tired."

Saffold consulted with the team athletic trainer, who determined that he could be on the verge of cardiac arrest. The trainer sprung into action, putting Saffold in a cold shower to lower his body temperature while also working to steady his breathing. It took 15 minutes for Saffold's heart rate to return to normal. The trainer's quick response may have saved his life.

Subsequent testing revealed that Saffold's rapid heart rate stemmed from fatigue, overexertion and a large dose of caffeine-laced energy drinks.

The lesson in Saffold's story? Energy drinks are not a replacement for sports drinks. Going further, we can conclude that there is no place for caffeinated energy drinks in relation to training, games and competition.

Kick the caffeine habit and discover the best sports drink options to suit your fueling and performance needs. And view the video above to learn about Sam Bradford's hydration strategy.


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