When a woman was rushed to the hospital after she fainted, doctors discovered the woman's liquid diet consisted of nothing but soda for the last 16 years.

The 31-year-old woman, who lives in Monaco and whose name hasn't been released, had her blood tested upon arrival at the hospital. When doctors found severely low potassium levels, and a test of her heart's electrical activity showed she had long QT syndrome, they began to grow curious — until the woman revealed she hadn't touched any beverage to her lips other than cola since she was 15 years old.

Long QT syndrome results from the heart's delayed repolarization between pumps. Each time the heart muscle contracts, it recharges. When it doesn't initiate the next pump fast enough, it can produces what's known as an arrhythmia — an irregular heartbeat. As a result, not enough blood reaches the brain, causing, like in the woman's case, the person to faint.

Doctors point to the soda diet she mentioned as the probable cause of her fainting, due to the soda's caffeine levels and the woman's potassium deficiency.

Caffeine is a natural diuretic, meaning it increases urine production. Too much caffeine in the body prevents potassium reabsorption through the body's natural water supply. As the caffeine accumulates, and the potassium diminishes, a person's heart has an increasingly harder time conducting the necessary electricity to keep pumping efficiently.

After abstaining from soda for just one week, the woman's potassium levels and heart electrical activity returned to normal, according to LiveScience. The woman reported no members in her family ever had heart complications.

Researchers urge people to monitor their soda intake, as the body is not equipped to handle the caffeine overload.

And while the science seems to confer the doctors' assumptions, researchers said future studies should examine whether those who drink cola excessively have lower potassium levels than people who don't drink cola.

"One of the take-home messages is that cardiologists need to be aware of the connection between cola consumption and potassium loss," said study researchers Dr. Naima Zarqane, of Princess Grace Hospital Centre in Monaco, adding they also "ask patients found to have QT prolongation about beverage habits."

After searching for other similar cases, the researchers found six reports of excessive cola consumption that were thought to be related to adverse medical problems, including heart rhythm problems.

Heart palpitations caused by potassium deficiencies can cause life-threatening problems, such as cardiac arrest. More understated, meanwhile, is the toll excess soda takes on the body, which can include weight gain. Over time, obesity puts people at greater risk for many other diseases.

The case report was presented this week at the European Heart Rhythm Association meeting in Athens, Greece.