An amphetamine-type stimulant found in dietary supplements marketed to promote weight loss and improve athletic performance could be to blame for a hemorrhagic stroke in a woman who took the supplement before working out.
The case report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is the first to suggest a connection between the man-made, synthetic compound called BMPEA and an exercise-induced stroke.
The patient, a 53-year-old woman, was reportedly in good health and physical condition before the stroke. She took a supplement called Jacked Power as the label directed before beginning her regular, vigorous exercise routine.
Forty-five minutes after completing her workout, she reported a sudden onset of numbness and clumsiness in her left hand. When she sought medical care, her blood pressure was elevated and a CT scan of her head showed a 2-cm hemorrhage in the right parietal lobe of her brain. She was stabilized and released five days later.
Researchers analyzed the supplement in a lab and found that it contained a high dose of the stimulant BMPEA, which was not listed in the ingredients on the label.
In April of this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to five companies to stop selling products containing BMPEA, stating that the stimulant does not meet the definition of a dietary ingredient. The warning came after a Harvard Medical School study found nearly a dozen weight-loss and performance supplements contain BMPEA but disguise it under the plant extract Acacia rigidula.
While BMPEA has not been tested in humans, it has been shown to increased blood pressure in cats and dogs. "These are things that are signals that in humans will later turn into heart attacks, strokes and maybe even sudden death," the study's lead author, Dr. Pieter Cohen, who also wrote the case report about the probable connection between BMPEA and exercise-induced stroke, told "CBS This Morning" last month.
Cohen cautions both physicians and consumers to be on high alert when it comes to supplements claiming to promote weight loss. "Dietary supplements can legally be sold to improve workouts even when there is zero evidence that they actually work in humans," he said in a statement. "This creates a perverse incentive for manufacturers to introduce untested drugs into sports supplements to achieve the advertised effect. Tragically, untested stimulants can pose serious health risks to unsuspecting consumers."
He urged physicians to report any suspected adverse events in patients taking supplements to the FDA at www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov.