By Alexandria Hein
Published March 06, 2019
A 64-year-old Missouri man died days after seeking a holistic treatment that involves an intravenous infusion of vitamins, raising the question of whether the therapy is safe for everyone, especially those with underlying conditions. It was reportedly the 12th time the man, who is not being identified by The Kansas City Star, had sought the treatment in recent months, but the first time he had a violent reaction to it.
“It is important to assess the overall health of individuals seeking intravenous vitamin infusion therapy, including laboratory studies to assess kidney and liver function prior to the initiation of therapy,” the man’s autopsy report, which did not link his death to the therapy, said, according to The Kansas City Star.
According to the news outlet, the man vomited during treatment and complained of an odd sensation on his skin. When he got home, his vomiting worsened and he spiked a fever. He was admitted to the University of Kansas Hospital with symptoms of organ failure, and died three days later.
While the idea of IV vitamin drips are not new, the practice has recently seen an uptick in popularity lately with boutiques offering cures for everything from a hangover to a boost in sexual function. The treatment typically takes between 20 minutes and an hour and is a way to deliver a higher concentration of the vitamins to the body, rather than ingesting it via pill form.
“There’s the risk of getting ‘too much of a good thing,’ with IV vitamin drips,” Dr. Lindsay Slowiczek, a drug information pharmacist, previously told HealthLine.com. “It is possible to receive too much of a specific vitamin or mineral, which can increase the risk of adverse effects. For example, people with kidney disease cannot remove certain electrolytes and minerals from the body very quickly.”
Slowiczek also said adding too much potassium too quickly to the body could lead to a heart attack.
“People with certain heart or blood pressure conditions can also be at risk of fluid overload from the infusion. In general, excessive levels of vitamins and minerals can be hard on the organs and should be avoided,” Slowiczek told HealthLine.com.
The man’s autopsy report, which was conducted by the Jackson County medical examiner’s office, listed organ failure due mainly to cirrhosis of the liver, with contributing factors of high blood pressure and obesity as his official cause of death, The Kansas City Star reported. While it did not find any source of bacterial, viral or fungal infection, one expert told the news outlet it would be impossible to rule out without taking samples of the fluids used by the spa that the man had visited.
“Unless the authorities obtained some cultures or chemical analysis of what was infused, it is impossible to know for sure," Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, told the Star. "Toxins can be in the infused material, even bacteria, and not show up on culture or assessment of the patient.”