Energy Drinks Quickly Affect the Heart

Energy Drinks Quickly Affect the Heart

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Study finds energy drinks cause changes in heartbeat and blood pressure within hours.

Consuming too many energy drinks in a short timespan may enlarge blood pressure and disrupt heart rhythm, a study has found.

About one hour after consuming an energy drink, your energy levels will already start to drop. Depending on your activity, this may reason you to consume an additional drink. However, caffeine levels in your system are still very high. Consuming another drink might bring those energy levels up, but it will put double the amount of caffeine in your body, which your liver is already working hard to break down.

It may be the dangerous changes in heartbeat and blood pressure that land some consumers of energy drinks in the emergency room, based on the results of a clinical trial that tested their short-term effects on the heart.

Energy drinks—which have a mixture of caffeine and other energy-boosting ingredients—have been linked to a number of health problems, including abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack, and sudden cardiac arrest.

To learn more, researchers tracked heart activity in 34 healthy volunteers who consumed two popular brands of energy drinks (or a placebo sugar drink) on three separate occasions. The goal was to see how energy drinks affect blood pressure and changes in the QT interval, which is the time it takes the heart to recharge in between beats.

The energy drinks tested in the study contained between 152 and 160 milligrams of caffeine per can, along with other ingredients like taurine, glucuronolactone, and vitamins. The placebo drink contained only carbonated water, lime juice, and cherry flavoring.

After tracking participants’ heart rhythm and blood pressure for four hours after consuming the drinks, researchers found that the two energy drinks significantly enlarged blood pressure compared to the placebo drink. After consuming the energy drinks, participants’ average QT interval was also 6-7 milliseconds higher than it was after consuming the placebo drink.

What this shows, according to authors, is that energy drinks likely have an instant impact on both blood pressure and heart rhythm. These changes could be to blame for the increase in heart risks from energy drink consumption.

A long QT interval can signal a heart rhythm disorder, which can cause serious irregular heart rhythms that increase the risk for stroke. High blood pressure, which affects nearly half of U.S. adults, is also a known risk factor for heart disease and significantly enlarges risk for heart events.

 

For these reasons, experts urge individuals with heart situation and high blood pressure to use caution and limit their energy drink intake. Authors also encourage additional research to study the long-term health effects of regular energy drink consumption and to help identify the ingredients that pose a danger to heart health.

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