A dangerous TikTok trend known as “dry scooping” sent an otherwise healthy 20-year-old woman to the hospital with a heart attack.
“Dry scooping” is the trend of eating a spoonful of unmixed pre-workout powder in what is being called the “cinnamon challenge for fitness enthusiasts.” This is particularly dangerous because pre-workout powder contains high amounts of caffeine and, according to nutritionist Ayat Sleymann, consuming excessive doses of caffeine quickly can result in “fast and irregular heartbeats, which could lead to sudden cardiac arrest and even death.”
It’s safe to say Briatney Portillo, a reported model for the adult social media platform OnlyFans, didn’t fully understand the consequences of doing this when she decided to “dry scoop” before going to the gym.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, Portillo admitted that she was curious about the trend after seeing it on social media and tried it out. The negative effects were almost immediate but instead of seeking medical attention, she went on about her day like normal. Things went from bad to worse very quickly.
“After I took the pre-workout, I started to feel tingly and itchy all over my body, which wasn’t a good feeling, but I googled it and it said that was a normal side effect,” she noted. “So I began to do my workout. I started to feel a heavy feeling in my chest and slight pain, but it wasn’t too bad. I thought it was maybe anxiety or a bad panic attack, so I decided to just ignore it and push through my workout.”
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After the chest pains went away, Portillo was left nauseous and lightheaded. This still wasn’t enough to get her to go to the hospital, however, and she decided to go to her job at a strip club. This is where her symptoms evolved into a full-fledged medical emergency.
“In the locker room of my job, I started getting hot, even though it was cold in there,” she said. “I started sweating a lot and was drenched even though I was wearing a bikini. Then my chest pain came back and this time it was more intense.”
She became scared, recognizing that she was having the classic symptoms of cardiac arrest.
“The pain went to my back and to my left arm and my left arm went slightly limp, so I knew those were symptoms of a heart attack. I called 911 and the ambulance came.”
After arriving at the hospital, medical staff deduced that Portillo had a less-damaging form of a heart attack, known as an “NSTEMI.”
She was advised to avoid caffeine (specifically pre-workout) and monitor her heart rate during her workouts upon release from the hospital.
Sleymann explained that the reason pre-workout is mixed with water or milk is that it slows the absorption of the caffeine into your system, giving you a steady and relatively safe boost of energy during your gym session. “There have been reported cases of stroke, heart attacks, hepatitis and death from not following diluting instructions,” she noted further.
Dietician Sarah Grace Meckelberg concluded that additional concerns of dry-scooping include potential inhalation of the powder which can create the perfect environment for lung and/or sinus infections. “You’ve probably seen it happen: someone puts the scoop in their mouth, only to breathe in and have a ton of powder come out everywhere.”
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