Man Dies After Eating Too Much Black Liquorice
A report in the New England Journal of Medicine explains how the 54-year-old construction worker from Massachusetts suffered no symptoms before he suddenly went into cardiac arrest in a fast food restaurant.
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived at the scene around four minutes later and found that he was suffering from ventricular fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that leaves the heart unable to effectively pump blood.
The EMTs performed CPR and administered electric shocks to the man's chest, before taking him to hospital.
Medics tried to rectify his heart rhythm, but the patient remained in a critical condition, with tests revealing he had abnormally low levels of potassium in his blood, and elevated levels of potassium in his urine.
Having been placed on a ventilator, the man had unstable blood pressure and went into kidney failure.
Sadly, around 32 hours later, he passed away.
In the case report, the team from Massachusetts General Hospital described how the man - who has not been named - regularly ate large quantities of black liquorice.
More Like ThisMore Like This
Unlike red liquorice, the black variant contains glycyrrhizic acid - which is what doctors say was to blame.
"A 54-year-old man was evaluated at the hospital after cardiac arrest associated with ventricular fibrillation," the report said.
"The patient had been in a fast-food restaurant when he gasped suddenly and lost consciousness. Emergency medical services personnel arrived, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was initiated. A diagnosis was made."
Dr Elazer Edelman said: "We are told that this patient has a poor diet and eats a lot of candy. Could his illness be related to candy consumption?"
Dr Edelman added that studies had shown glycyrrhizic acid could cause 'hypertension, hypokalemia [what happens when someone's potassium levels in their blood become dangerously low], metabolic alkalosis, fatal arrhythmias, and renal failure', all of which were seen in this patient.
Dr Andrew Lundquist, also agreed in the report that liquorice was the root of the problem.
He wrote: "Further investigation revealed a recent change to a liquorice-containing candy as the likely cause of his hypokalemia."
Featured Image Credit: PA