benefits of stimulants? [split]


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Re: More Jamaican positives [split] [Simpson one]

Postby Blues » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:57 am

At the risk of incurring the wrath of batonless relay, whose intelligence I have the utmost respect for, here's my opinion. There are some substances, including stimulants, which "might" provide a slight performance advantage in certain events DURING a competition, but those same substances wouldn't make a difference if used out of competition. They could ban stimulants at all times, but I think there's at least SOME intent by the anti-doping powers to try to allow athletes some of the rights that the rest of us have, at least when those rights won't result in a performance enhancement. And to be honest, based on scientific evidence, if they're going to ban all stimulants at all times, then they'll probably eventually have to ban stimulants like caffeine at all times too, which seems like overkill.

Stimulants have a short half life, and really don't have an effect after a few hours. On the other hand, the physiological changes in the body from using EPO, anabolic steroids, HGH, etc. may provide performance enhancement effects for weeks or months after the substance is used, which is why those substances are banned at all times.

As far as stimulants go, I think the best overall solution is to ban them in-competition only, but if it ever came down to having to choose whether they're banned at all times or not banned at all, I'll have to move over to Pego's team and vote that they not be banned at all, so as not to further impose on the rights of the athlete.

And safety is a major factor too, and is also a factor that determines why WADA bans substances. If some athletes feel they'll do better in a competition by taking extra high doses of an OTC stimulant despite the side effects or risks, those athletes can increase their risks of heart attack, stroke, aneurysms, and other serious health problems. Potent narcotics and marijuana aren't banned in-competition because they provide a performance advantage, but rather because of safety concerns, both for the athlete and for others.

And not that it matters, but here's my stimulant experience. After several years of working a busy overnight shift, I'd become extremely sleep deprived from having difficulties with trying to sleep during the day. It got to the point that I started drinking multiple energy drinks every night just to stay alert. One night at work after having several cups of coffee and two additional energy drinks, I had a sudden unusual chest pain, followed by a continuous mild throbbing pain every time my heart beat.. It turned out that the increase in blood pressure from the stimulants had blown a bubble in my ascending aorta. If that bubble had burst, I'd have been dead in several minutes. I was lucky to have it diagnosed before it got worse, and to have one of the best heart surgeons in the country repair it, and I now can run, strenuously exercise, and do everything normally despite having a dacron tube as part of my aorta. Not everybody is as lucky.
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Re: 5 More Jamaican positives [Simpson & Powell big names]

Postby bambam » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:57 am

Pego wrote:Amazingly, there is not one study available anywhere that would conclusively say, "they make you faster," "they make you stronger," "they make you jump further"...The most you can get out of available literature are words such as "may improve...", "some scientists believe..." In other words, not much.


Agree with Pego completely and I've said that many times on this board. In order to prove the efficacy of a medication or a surgery anymore, we have to produce what the medical world calls Level I studies. There are 5 levels of evidence - 1 is the highest, 5 the worst - which is expert opinion or anecdotes. Yet there are very few, if any, Level I studies that prove the performance enhancing effects of many of the drugs on the WADA list. Yet they are able to ban them without much evidence, which is what ticks me off about the whole current scenario. This ruins people's lives, without much evidence, but the sports administrators feel free to do this. Ask Zach Lund (2006-10 USA Luger) who was kicked out of an Olympics at which he favored because he used finasteride (baldness cream), which was later taken off the prohibited list when it was shown not to do anything, but his chance at a medal was ruined. Where does he go to protest?

There is anecdotal evidence and that is about it. You can tell us how much anecdotal evidence there is and we will simply repeat the aphorism, "One million anecdotes constitutes anecdotal evidence." Without Level I studies, we don't have solid evidence of performance-enhancing abilities for many of these medications.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby bambam » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:02 am

Pego wrote:I'll accept this when somebody can show me better reaction time with stimulants than placebo. Everything so far has been assumptions of what stimulants might or could do to the performance, but not one piece of evidence of what they actually do to it.


Again, Pego is right on - this is what has to be done to get a drug approved for a condition in the United States and Europe (though they are less strict there). You must do a randomized clinical trial, double-blinded, against a placebo to prove that the drug has the effect you are saying that it has. Without that, you haven't prove anything. The placebo effect is so strong it works on everything, and has even been shown to work in laboratory animals. So doctors must do studies like this to get a drug approved for usage, yet sports administrators can just blindly put anything they want on the PED list, with no such studies at all.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby bambam » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:04 am

Marlow wrote:Isn't that the case with MOST PEDs, which MANY athletes still use.
I totally get Pego's point, but my own anecdotal evidences suggests otherwise. I know caffeine has always helped me (and doubt it was just psychological/placebo).


Again that is anecdotal - and how do you know it was not a placebo? The second you say that caffeine always helps you, taking it becomes a placebo whether you want to admit it or not. If I gave you a sugar pill and said this will make you run faster, and you believe it, you would likely run faster.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby bambam » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:08 am

tjallen wrote:Pego while I agree in general with your assertion that PEDs on the list should have a scientific basis for being there, I don't see that any test will ever meet the strict standards you've set regarding stimulants.


That's probably true, so let's do a what if. I don't know what you do for a living. Let's say you are a shoe salesman, and your store decides that they are going to test all shoe salesmen for all drugs they say may make you a better shoe salesman, because that is an artificial advantage over the other salesmen. There is no evidence for any of the drugs they put on this list but you are found to have taken one of them. You then lose your job, your income, probably your house, your wife leaves you and takes the kids with her. Five years later, somebody realizes that the drug on that list did not actually make you a better shoe salesman. Who is apologizing to you for that because they never did the strict studies to see if what they were saying is true? How happy are you that nobody ever looked at strict standards? The athletes are held to very strict standards via WADA/USADA, whatever. Why can't the sports administrators be held to the same strict standards?
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby Blues » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:14 am

I disagree that there's no evidence that suggests that certain stimulants can improve performance in certain types of athletic events. The problem is not that studies don't exist, but rather that there are studies that suggest both sides of the argument. If the results of one study show that a stimulant can improve performance in a particular athletic endeavor, does a different study, involving a different athletic endeavor, automatically invalidate the first study if the results of the second study are different? I'm just not ready to assume that.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby Pego » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:21 am

tjallen wrote:I don't see that any test will ever meet the strict standards you've set regarding stimulants


I don't think these standards are as strict as to be prohibitive. You need a fairly small sample, 20-25 with about 3-4 repetitions of the 3 ways - nothing/placebo/stimulant. But be it as it may, there is not much evidence for PED effect with agents that everybody agrees are PEDs. Steroids do seem to have that effect, there is empirical evidence. Much less so with HGH, they might potentiate steroids, but other than that...Hematocrit modifying agents clearly help, but EPO is not much superior to autotransfusion (which I consider natural), training at altitude or pressure tents.

I digressed a bit from the stimulants. All we have for considering them PEDs is the intuitive, knee jerk attitude of "they must help" and anecdotal statements like Marlow's above without empiric support. Yes, you feel stronger, you feel fresher, you feel ready to conquer the world, but do you really?

Well, I think I presented my case as well as I can. I believe that my position reflects reason, but we all know that illusion is a lot more powerful emotion than reality :wink: .

Edit. After I posted this, I found bambam's posts. Thank you.
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Re: 5 More Jamaican positives [Simpson & Powell big names]

Postby batonless relay » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:27 am

Though bursting with greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony it seems that my wrath will have to be permanently excised. :lol:

Blues, I only suggest that it be either/or; what is in place is NOT working. And, the calls for the IAAF to do something are silly; this isn't IAAF's call to make unless they decide to secede from WADA/CAS and it's code/rulings. The reason why I can't get on the Pego bandwagon, though I respect his view, is that you're expecting athletes/coaches NOT to self-medicate; it's not going to happen. They're going to over use anything "legal", just like a FEW are doing with Steroids, HGH, etc.

Also, like Pego, I believe we need to STOP ATHLETES FROM USING SUPPLEMENTS. The extent to which they show any positive performance, according to Pego's standard, is negligible and the extent to which those positives continue to damage the reputation (or what's left of it) of track and field is enormous! Why continue to take the risk as a sport. Make Supplements as illegal as steroids, hgh or a false start. But let's stop ******* around with "respect for the athletes rights" and concentrate on the for the right of the sport to exist.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby Marlow » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:38 am

bambam wrote:
Marlow wrote:Isn't that the case with MOST PEDs, which MANY athletes still use.
I totally get Pego's point, but my own anecdotal evidences suggests otherwise. I know caffeine has always helped me (and doubt it was just psychological/placebo).

Again that is anecdotal - and how do you know it was not a placebo? The second you say that caffeine always helps you, taking it becomes a placebo whether you want to admit it or not. If I gave you a sugar pill and said this will make you run faster, and you believe it, you would likely run faster.

Yes, it's anecdotal, but I am now in my 56th consecutive year (yes, I do remember competing in a track meet at 6yo! - and yes, I'm now performing at the same level as I did when I was six!!) of track and have become very good at reading my body. As a psych major I am also keenly aware of what part the mind plays. That said, I cannot, of course, rebut you! :D
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Re: More Jamaican positives [split] [Simpson one]

Postby 26mi235 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:42 am

toyracer wrote:
batonless relay wrote:
toyracer wrote:On a personal note, that's what has always been puzzling to me about the WADA code. WADA says, in effect, "yes, you can use this when not competing but if we find traces of it when you compete then you are busted".

And, that's why it should be banned all the time. MAKE IT CLEAR. WADA needs to make the rules concise enough to fit on a post-it note instead of this nonsense of office hours of a part-time post office (open on Tuesdays, but only every other Tuesday that has an odd number date...)


Agreed. Either:

a)allow stimulants all the time

or

b) ban stimulants all the time

This "you can use them but not when competing" is a "gotcha" moment just waiting to happen.


I disagree, why should athletes be denied typical medicines that are useful just because they might be beneficial during performance. I think that you are trying to solve one problem by making another unnecessarily worse. I also do not see a strong link that using them at other times is the core of the problem.
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Re: 5 More Jamaican positives [Simpson & Powell big names]

Postby Pego » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:56 am

Blues wrote:It turned out that the increase in blood pressure from the stimulants had blown a bubble in my ascending aorta.


Let me play psychiatrist for a moment :wink: . Do not feel guilty about causing an aortic aneurysm by drinking stimulants. I bet those drinks did not cause it :D .
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Re: 5 More Jamaican positives [Simpson & Powell big names]

Postby Blues » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:07 am

batonless relay wrote:Though bursting with greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony it seems that my wrath will have to be permanently excised. :lol:

Blues, I only suggest that it be either/or; what is in place is NOT working. And, the calls for the IAAF to do something are silly; this isn't IAAF's call to make unless they decide to secede from WADA/CAS and it's code/rulings. The reason why I can't get on the Pego bandwagon, though I respect his view, is that you're expecting athletes/coaches NOT to self-medicate; it's not going to happen. They're going to over use anything "legal", just like a FEW are doing with Steroids, HGH, etc.

Also, like Pego, I believe we need to STOP ATHLETES FROM USING SUPPLEMENTS. The extent to which they show any positive performance, according to Pego's standard, is negligible and the extent to which those positives continue to damage the reputation (or what's left of it) of track and field is enormous! Why continue to take the risk as a sport. Make Supplements as illegal as steroids, hgh or a false start. But let's stop ******* around with "respect for the athletes rights" and concentrate on the for the right of the sport to exist.


Okay, but what's so hard about athletes having a policy of not taking ANY supplement starting about 4 days prior to a competition? Heck, they can just mark their calendars four days prior to meets and they won't have a problem, and they can still use pre-workout supplements during training up until that point if they feel it necessary.

I'd be curious to know how athletes would vote on the subject, if they had a choice of keeping it the way it is now (banning stimulants in-competition only), or being prohibited from ever using stimulants, to help avoid any inadvertent positives. It's possible that positive tests due to the use of legitimate medications out of competition for valid reasons like sinus, bronchial, and allergy problems might increase if stimulants are banned at all times though. I'm not so sure that that's a better option than having an athlete test positive because he or she forgets not to take a stimulant for at least a few days prior to a competition.
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Re: 5 More Jamaican positives [Simpson & Powell big names]

Postby batonless relay » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:35 am

Blues wrote: Okay, but what's so hard about athletes having a policy of not taking ANY supplement starting about 4 days prior to a competition? Heck, they can just mark their calendars four days prior to meets and they won't have a problem, and they can still use pre-workout supplements during training up until that point if they feel it necessary.

Because eventually you'll have another "Ohurougu" claiming early onset dementia as to why they did it 3.5 days instead of 4. Why get into all of that? Just say you can't use it...there doesn't even have to be a reason. Whatever happened to "because I said so"?
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Re: 5 More Jamaican positives [Simpson & Powell big names]

Postby tm71 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:37 am

Pego wrote:
Blues wrote:It turned out that the increase in blood pressure from the stimulants had blown a bubble in my ascending aorta.


Let me play psychiatrist for a moment :wink: . Do not feel guilty about causing an aortic aneurysm by drinking stimulants. I bet those drinks did not cause it :D .


haha you are trying to do my job ! people believe what they want to believe regardless, but some people are much more suggestible than others especially if they think they can trust you. then again i am getting into work stuff and i am only on my lunch break !
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Re: 5 More Jamaican positives [Simpson & Powell big names]

Postby 26mi235 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:40 am

batonless relay wrote: Make Supplements as illegal as steroids, hgh or a false start. But let's stop ******* around with "respect for the athletes rights" and concentrate on the for the right of the sport to exist.


I agree with you up to this point. This point does not follow from the prior argument; one reason is that supplements are not a 'thing' that can be banned. Almost any definition you come up with would have either idiotic implications (no Vitamin D in milk) or allow loopholes that will create a whole new round of essentially the same problems. Also, I suppose that I am too much of a libertarian (did not think I would write that phrase) for such a step. WADA or whomever would probably be sued, likely successfully in some jurisdiction, although not one with the power to do anything, for doing this. Finally, WADA's process would probably include a number of people (i.e., the experts) that would not go along with this policy step.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby Pego » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:44 am

tm71 wrote: people believe what they want to believe regardless


Many do, indeed, but Blues is a highly knowledgeable scientist. I hold him in the highest esteem.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby sjm1368 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:33 pm

It would be great if we could perform medical grade studies, but that's not how it works in exercise science research for the most part.

And to say that there are NO studies showing stimulants work, that's ludicrous.

Caffeine- It's a stimulant- tons of studies showing improved performance in wide range of disciplines.
Here;s one on caffeine showing improvement in best sprint time: http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol5/iss1/6/

Amphetamines- GO all the way back to the 1950's for one fo the 1st studies on stimulants and performance (Smith and Beecher, 1959) and they found 4% improvement in weight throw.

Ephedrine- Probably most studied stimulant besides caffeine.
Improved 10k times here: http://hbe.mcgill.ca/docs/bell_mclellan_sabiston.pdf

The problem is in athletics there are a tons of variables. and you have responders/non-responders, dose-response curves that are individual, etc. So add that in with the fact most studies have low numbers (10 if you are lucky) and you get a lot of contrasting info. It's the summation of it all that makes sense.

This was just off a quick search of google scholar.

Most stimulants are one of the few things that work. THat's why they are banned, or tons of people use it (caffeine for example). It works for most people.

Stimulants are CNS modulators for the most part. In endurance or events where fatigue plays a role, it modulates the "reserve capacity".
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby Pego » Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:29 pm

sjm1368 wrote:It would be great if we could perform medical grade studies, but that's not how it works in exercise science research for the most part.

And to say that there are NO studies showing stimulants work, that's ludicrous.

Caffeine- It's a stimulant- tons of studies showing improved performance in wide range of disciplines.
Here;s one on caffeine showing improvement in best sprint time: http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol5/iss1/6/

Amphetamines- GO all the way back to the 1950's for one fo the 1st studies on stimulants and performance (Smith and Beecher, 1959) and they found 4% improvement in weight throw.

Ephedrine- Probably most studied stimulant besides caffeine.
Improved 10k times here: http://hbe.mcgill.ca/docs/bell_mclellan_sabiston.pdf

The problem is in athletics there are a tons of variables. and you have responders/non-responders, dose-response curves that are individual, etc. So add that in with the fact most studies have low numbers (10 if you are lucky) and you get a lot of contrasting info. It's the summation of it all that makes sense.

This was just off a quick search of google scholar.

Most stimulants are one of the few things that work. THat's why they are banned, or tons of people use it (caffeine for example). It works for most people.

Stimulants are CNS modulators for the most part. In endurance or events where fatigue plays a role, it modulates the "reserve capacity".


These two studies are the first ones I have seen that indicate PED effect of stimulants, one on sprints, one on distance. The first one on caffeine leaves some questions unanswered, but it does show some effect. If these results could be successfully reproduced, it would be the evidence I am looking for.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby cladthin » Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:52 pm

This will probably be uninteresting to some maybe all but I'll tell it anyway. This is in regards to caffeine as a stimulant. The study (Thomas Hoke) took place about 20 years ago and involved determining if and to what degree caffeine ingestion had on a 1RM (1 rep. max.) for the back squat-probably published in the JSCR. Over two weeks we were to attempt a maximum back squat though neither week were we told if we had received the crystal light solution with caffeine or not. The squat was done to parallel or below. These were strictly judged and not to the nsca's definition of parallel. These were done to the point where there was straight line between the knee and the crease of the hip though I was told I was below on both days.

I had such a significant history with caffeine that I thought during week one if I had it in the solution I might not even know it so I did work up to my max for that day. Week two rolled around and within about 3-5' of consuming the drink I definitly knew this was the week I had received the caffeine as I was certainly "wired"!

My squat went up 33 lbs. and I improved by 6.8%. There is little doubt in my mind it made a difference. The results of the study showed, though it was small group as I recall, the caffeine did postively impact performance though I could not tell you to what degree as I've not seen the write-up for that in years-believe it was. While I do believe that maxing the previous week did serve as a learning experience that to a degree did help to set up the higher number the following week, I believe it was a small part of the improvement and the caffeine really carried the day.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby mrbowie » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:59 pm

FYI, a better case can be made for the use of a tranquilizer than a stimulant for sprinters, because a stimulant can take a runner out of his game, whereas a tranquilizer will allow a runner to relax and allow his speed to come out. This is why the drug of choice among cheaters in equine sports choose Ace, a tranquilizer, rather than a stimulant.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby gh » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:41 am

cladthin wrote:......
I had such a significant history with caffeine that I thought during week one if I had it in the solution I might not even know it so I did work up to my max for that day. Week two rolled around and within about 3-5' of consuming the drink I definitly knew this was the week I had received the caffeine as I was certainly "wired"!

My squat went up 33 lbs. and I improved by 6.8%. There is little doubt in my mind it made a difference. ....


classic cause and effect! There is little doubt in my mind that the difference was mental; you "knew" you were going to get a benefit and your brain ran with it.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby cladthin » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:24 am

gh wrote:
cladthin wrote:......
I had such a significant history with caffeine that I thought during week one if I had it in the solution I might not even know it so I did work up to my max for that day. Week two rolled around and within about 3-5' of consuming the drink I definitly knew this was the week I had received the caffeine as I was certainly "wired"!

My squat went up 33 lbs. and I improved by 6.8%. There is little doubt in my mind it made a difference. ....


classic cause and effect! There is little doubt in my mind that the difference was mental; you "knew" you were going to get a benefit and your brain ran with it.


While I knew I was jittery, wired, I did not know to expect a benefit as I'd never lifted so heavy in my life as the previous week was also a p.r.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby Pego » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:06 am

mrbowie wrote:FYI, a better case can be made for the use of a tranquilizer than a stimulant for sprinters, because a stimulant can take a runner out of his game, whereas a tranquilizer will allow a runner to relax and allow his speed to come out. This is why the drug of choice among cheaters in equine sports choose Ace, a tranquilizer, rather than a stimulant.


This reinforces my skepticism of stimulants' PED effects. While humans are highly susceptible to a placebo effect, the horses are fairly immune to it.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby cladthin » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:19 am

I think there have been some caffeine studies done with respect to the influence they might have on endurance performance. One I was told of yesterday was apparently a double blind experiment done with collegiate CC runners that showed caffeine did have a performance boost though it was mentioned it a fairly small experiment in terms of subjects.

One I can also recall (some of you guys with access to a lot of research journals online could probably find) which showed the positive effects with cyclists and endurance performance. I think part of the theory as to the reason caffeine might be beneficial was due to the mobilization of free fatty acids as substrate though possibly it had a neural stim. effect as well. It's been a long time since I reviewed some of these.
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Re: 5 More Jamaican positives [Simpson & Powell big names]

Postby Blues » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:19 am

Pego wrote:
Blues wrote:It turned out that the increase in blood pressure from the stimulants had blown a bubble in my ascending aorta.


Let me play psychiatrist for a moment :wink: . Do not feel guilty about causing an aortic aneurysm by drinking stimulants. I bet those drinks did not cause it :D .


What happened to me was unusual, but it's the consensus of experts that it did involve the caffeine and energy drinks to some extent and was probably a perfect storm. The onset involved a sudden, severe searing electrical shock type chest pain that lasted for about 10 seconds, followed by a localized moderate throbbing pain with each pulse, that persisted. PVCs suddenly occurred every few beats as well, and persisted. Once that happened, there was routine increased localized throbbing pain upon significant exertion or exercise which my aortic surgeon later attributed to the aneurysm stretching as BP increased, in part based on the location of the pain. Upon presentation to the cardiologist a few days after the incident happened at work, my BP, both systolic and diastolic, was elevated for the first time in my life as well and remained elevated (but controlled with metoprolol, no longer required) until I had surgery. Stress test preceded aneurysm diagnosis and was normal with no blockages.

Anyway, the combination of about 800 to 1000mg of caffeine over 2 to 3 hours immediately prior to the symptoms beginning, which was the most I'd ever consumed in that time period, along with any other ingredients that the energy drinks included, along with a normal 60mg dose of pseudoephedrine for nasal congestion due to allergies, along with an unusually hectic and stressful work shift that night, combined with the fact that I was already predisposed due to having a very efficient but still bicuspid aortic valve along with a father who also had an ascending aortic aneurysm, seems to have led to the compromise of a portion of the aortic wall. (That might be the longest run-on sentence in history.) Heavy caffeine use at work but at lower dosage over the previous few months may or may not have played a part too. I know that's not the way aneurysms generally occur, but my case was considered rare.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it, despite any new psychiatric diagnoses you guys choose to add to my chart... :wink:
Last edited by Blues on Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: benefits of stimulants? [split]

Postby Pego » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:34 am

Blues wrote:That's my story and I'm sticking to it, despite any new psychiatric diagnoses you guys choose to add to my chart


I wish nobody had more psychopathology than you do 8-) .
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