A YOUNG health worker died after overdosing on caffeine from over-the-counter slimming pills.
Cara Reynolds, 24, suffered a heart attack after swallowing up to 90 Forza Raspberry Ketones she bought on Amazon for £20.
The herbal slimming pills are marketed as natural supplements to aid weight loss and are endorsed by celebrities including Kim Kardashian.
But Miss Reynolds’s father Michael Reynolds is calling for them to be banned by retailers such as Boots, Holland & Barrett and Amazon.
He believes his daughter snapped in a “moment of madness” after splitting up with her fiancé and may still be alive if the pills had not been at hand.
Mr Reynolds, 55, a security officer from Edinburgh, said: “My entire world has collapsed since I lost my Cara. Our beautiful girl paid less than £20 and bought these pills from the Amazon website.”
He added: “If the ketones had not been so readily available, Cara might still be here today.”
Miss Reynolds, a clinical support assistant who worked with the mentally ill, bought a bottle of 90 Forza Raspberry Ketones from Amazon in February last year.
She told her parents she planned to take them to help her lose weight while also working out at the gym.
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Mr Reynolds said: “She was 5ft 4ins and a size ten and wasn’t overweight at all but we wanted to be supportive of her.
“She told us the slimming pills were made from natural ingredients, so we didn’t think they were anything to worry about.”
After taking just two pills she went to her father complaining of heart palpitations.
He said: “She had only taken the recommended amount of pills but was scared because her heart was going ten to the dozen.
“That’s when she said she wasn’t going to take them any more, it had really worried her.”
But a month later on 5 March she had a seizure in her bedroom and collapsed as her parents ran to her.
Miss Reynolds admitted she had taken most of the slimming pills and was vomiting and fitting for half an hour before falling unconscious.
Her father said: “I held my only daughter in my arms and before she became unresponsive she kept telling me she had made a mistake and that she didn’t want to die.
“She’d broken up with her fiancé of one year and was left devastated by the rocky relationship. In a moment of madness, she’d taken an overdose because she had the ketones to hand.
“It was the most heartbreaking moment of my life, and one I will never forget.”
Mr Reynolds called paramedics, who rushed Miss Reynolds to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where he told medics he had found the empty bottle of pills by her body.
Doctors battled to keep her alive but after five hours she was pronounced dead from a cardiovascular collapse.
A British Medical Journal (BMJ) case report into her death found she had ingested 18,000mg of caffeine and 18,000mg of raspberry ketones.
The high dose of caffeine sent her heart into cardiac arrest and over the course of five hours doctors made 44 attempts to resuscitate her with a defibrillator.
The BMJ concluded: “This case report highlights the dangers of increasingly popular over-the-counter slimming pills.
“Many slimming products have concentrations of up to 250mg of caffeine per tablet, which is equivalent to more than four cans of Red Bull or seven cans of Coca-Cola.
“Raspberry ketones are the naturally occurring chemical compounds that give raspberries their scent. They are promoted as ‘fat burners’ although there is little evidence for this.
“In Cara’s case, the cause of death was caffeine toxicity with a blood level of 103mg of caffeine per litre, which is within the fatal range.”
Her parents and brother Bryce, 22, were left devastated and launched a campaign calling for stores to remove the pills from their shelves.
Raspberry Ketones are advertised on Boots’ website as a natural fruit extract to help with weight loss.
It is recommended that no more than four capsules are taken each day – but this is still the caffeine equivalent to 16 cans of energy drink.
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