Energy Supplements Send Thousands to Emergency Rooms Each Year, Says Study

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Marji_151015According to a new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, energy supplements send thousands of young adults and teenagers to emergency rooms each year, more so than prescription stimulants.

For the report, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed information from a national database that covered 63 hospitals over a 10-year period, from 2004 to 2013.

Each case was defined as an emergency department visit for an issue that the clinician attributed to the use of dietary supplements.

Researchers calculated that on average, 23,000 people visit the ER every year after experiencing a problem with a supplement or vitamin pill. Many cases involve children who accidentally take supplements, older adults who choke on large pills, and young adults who are looking to lose weight or stay awake.

“More than one quarter (28%) of emergency department visits for supplement-related adverse events in our study involved young adults between the ages 20 and 34 years,” wrote researchers in their report.

The report also states that “weight-loss or energy products were implicated in 71.8 percent of all emergency department visits for supplement-related adverse events involving palpitations, chest pain, or tachycardia (rapid heartbeat).”

These symptoms can be the result of stimulants. Supplements aren’t supposed to contain active drug products and are often marketed as being made from natural ingredients. However, the FDA notes that many of these so-called natural supplements contain prescription drugs that are not found on their labels.

The report also highlights how cardiac symptoms are documented more frequently in emergency department visits for complications associated with weight loss (43%) and energy products (46%) than for prescription stimulants.

Researchers note how in 2007, the out-of-pocket costs for herbal or complementary nutritional products topped $14.8 billion, which was one-third of the out-of-pocket expenditures for prescription drugs.

Source for Today’s Article:

Fox, M., “Supplements Send Thousands of Americans to Emergency Room Every Year, Study Finds,” NBC News web site, October 15, 2015;