Son Found His Mom Dead After She Drank Lots Of This Popular Drink!
Caffeine, Fluoxetine, or Other. Thirty-eight year old Victoria Lane was discovered by son Reese. Investigators suspected excessive drinking and antidepressants were cause of death. She was under fluoxetine management for depression, had been known to drink volumes of Pepsi Max, and consume considerable vodka. Victoria reportedly suffered from chronic dry mouth related to her medication and drank lots of Pepsi Max to quench thirst, many days exceeding eight liters a day. The official pathology report established the cause of death as “accidental” from “excessive ingestion of fluoxetine exacerbated by the excess use of caffeine”. Assistant Coroner Sarah Murphy noted that Victoria “died prematurely”. Reporter Reve Fisher suggested on November 4 that fluoxetine and caffeine have an interaction effect resulting in serotonin syndrome, hypothesized etiology for the woman’s death.
Fluoxetine. This medication is an antidepressant, increasing the brain’s serotonin as a “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor”. It is used to treat depression, mood disorders, and occasionally alcoholism. It remains in the body for days. One reported suicide attempt documented overdose, but only seizures were observed, not death.
Caffeine. The “buzz” from coffee and soft drink caffeine is transient. Caffeine’s lifetime in the body is a few hours, breaking down to metabolites Paraxanthine, Theobromine, and Theophylline. They break down lipids, dilate blood vessels and increase urine, and relax the body’s smooth muscles, respectively. In effect, caffeine causes all elements of the CNS to be stimulated and affects heart rate through its impact on the adenosine receptors. Adenosine has antidepressant similarities. Caffeine would appear to be an additional antidepressant to Fluoxetine operating via an additional metabolic route distinct from that of Fluoxetine.
Overdosing with Pepsi Max. This cola in the UK has 3.54 mg/oz of caffeine and differs from the version available in North America. The amount of Pepsi Max used by Victoria daily would amount to a caffeine dose of over 960 mg of caffeine. (An Acceptable Daily Intake is 300 to 400 mg.) So, she had double her body’s capability to manage caffeine by ADI, but apparently had developed a tolerance for it because she had been on this regimen daily for a long period. She could be “shaky”, but it may be a stretch to suggest it is the reason for her death.
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Alcohol. Alcohol use may affect the effectiveness of Fluoxetine. Drowsiness may be enhanced. But, there appears to be no significant alcohol interaction effect with Fluoxetine.
Other Variables. Pepsi Max also uses artificial sweeteners (aspartme and acesulfame potassium) of undetermined concentrations (levels not required by UK soft drink labeling regulations). People with phenylketonuria may suffer from aspartme toxicity since it breaks down into aspartic acid and phenylalanine, but even “normals” could receive toxic levels. If a typical diet cola has 192 mg concentration, the user would have to drink 14 cans in a day before exceeding the UK’s “acceptable daily intake”. Then there is the matter of teenage head trauma related to an accident, but no details are available to determine its significance in the death. Seizures related to old brain injuries could be a factor. If one suspects caffeine as the culprit for Victoria’s death, can these other variables be ruled out?
Bottom Line. Insufficient data are available for a valid etiology to be determined for Victoria’s death.