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Pittsburgh-area teenager says he went into cardiac arrest after drinking Panera Charged Lemonade

Pittsburgh-area teenager says a Panera Charged Lemonade put him in the ICU
Pittsburgh-area teenager says a Panera Charged Lemonade put him in the ICU 02:39

MONROEVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) -- A popular drink will soon disappear from Panera's menu after some people say it harmed their health, even causing cardiac arrest. 

The Charged Lemonade contains more caffeine than three cups of coffee. One local teenager says it put him in the ICU for a week.

Luke Adams spent eight days at Allegheny Health Networks Forbes Hospital. He said the last thing he remembers is drinking a 30-ounce Charged Lemonade before walking into a local movie theater.

The name says it all: Panera's Charged Lemonades are sparking talks about how much is too much caffeine. It's something a Monroeville teenager experienced firsthand.

"It's likely he felt his heart racing and felt jittery and anxious but because he has no recollection of the event, so he has lost his memory, the time preceding the event and the number of days afterward, we don't know exactly what he was feeling," said Allegheny Health Network cardiologist Dr. Andrew Pogozelski.

Pogozelski saw Luke Adams' cardiac arrest unfold at AHN Forbes Hospital. The otherwise healthy 18-year-old came by ambulance, unable to speak or move. 

"He had been shocked twice in the field by an AED so his heart rhythm was an abnormal rhythm that's not compatible with life, so he was shocked back to life," Pogozelski said.

The local teen lost consciousness in the movie theater. Thankfully two nurses and a cardiologist picked that same movie time.

"He was in some ways he's extraordinarily obviously unlucky to have a cardiac arrest at age 18 with no other medical problems but extremely lucky that he had nurses and a doctor in the actual movie theater at the time and his friend helped get the AED put on him," Pogozelski said.

There's up to 302 mg in a Charged Lemonade. A Pepsi has just 38 mg, so you'd need to drink nearly eight to match it. 

Panera now faces multiple lawsuits, saying the high caffeine levels led to two customers' deaths. And it just announced it will pull the lemonades. For Adams, it'll stick with him for life.

"He has a defibrillator implanted, so he has an implantable cardiac defibrillator that's tunneled under his skin. It's a newer defibrillator that he can have in for probably about 25 years," Pogozelski said.   

KDKA Investigates reached out to Panera for a comment on the timeline of removing these drinks but didn't hear back. But KDKA-TV did successfully order one at the Panera up the street, where they were still on the menu.

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