TikTok is chock-full of so-called "life hacks" and fitness trends, but one alleged tip involving "dry scooping" reportedly caused major health issues for at least two users, including one who claims she had a heart attack. So what is this latest gimmick, and can it really cause a heart attack?
If done with extremely high levels of caffeine, yes, says one cardiologist.
"This fad is similar to the ephedrine craze for weight loss that is now banned," Dr. Satjit Bhusri, cardiologist and founder of Upper East Side Cardiology, told Fox News. "The intent behind dry scooping is to allow the performance-enhancing supplements pre-workout to enter the bloodstream faster than the typical pre-workout drink."
Rather than mixing the pre-workout powder into a diluted drink of either milk or water, the TikTok fad sees users swallow the powder dry and then chase it with a liquid. In addition to caffeine, many pre-workout products include creatine, taurine, B-viatmins, NO2-boosters, and branch chain amino acids, according to Men’s Health.
"By dry scooping, absorption begins directly through the membranes in your mouth and continues through your esophagus and into your stomach," Bhusri explained. "As pure dry powder, there is no dilution and the fast entry into your bloodstream results in an immediate release of supplements. Of those, it is the incredibly high dose of caffeine that enters the blood very rapidly. This, like ephedrine, causes an abrupt increase in adrenaline and puts the heart in overdrive."
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That could be especially dangerous for someone who has undiagnosed coronary artery disease or could trigger an underlying arrhythmia leading to dangerous health implications.
"In people who have undiagnosed coronary artery disease, there becomes a supply-demand mismatch for oxygen as the heart is demanding more and more, but due to an undiagnosed blockage, the supply is not there, this leads to a heart attack," Bhusri said. "The increase in heart rate can also be a trigger for underlying arrhythmias. This can lead to, amongst other things, a stroke."
Caffeine can also trigger atrial fibrillation, which causes blood clots to form in the heart which could travel to the brain. It can also cause high blood pressure, which Bhusri warns could have a domino effect on the organs.
"There are absolutely no benefits to dry scooping," Bhusri warned. "The alternative is the gold standard, body conditioning. If done the right way, with a structured diet and exercise program, similar results will be achieved. Moreover, these results will have a positive effect on the body and the heart. The result will be a healthier heart, a more relaxed cardiovascular system and a marked decrease in the risk of heart disease."