Energy Drinks Linked to Heart Rhythm Changes

Posted on April 29 2013

On those mornings when you just can’t seem to get yourself out of that tired funk it’s easy to grab a giant cup of coffee, but now many people skip the coffee and go straight to the energy drinks. Energy drinks have been a pretty big fad the last few years and yes, they sound good when you need that extra boost to get through your work day or before a sporting event, but they can cause health problems. Be aware of the effects before stopping at the gas station to grab a giant can of energy.

Energy drinks boost blood pressure and new studies have shown that it may make the heart more susceptible to electrical short circuits. No one says you have to avoid the Red Bull or Monster sections of the store, but there are people who may be more vulnerable to the effects of energy drinks than others. Seven studies were looked at by researchers and among them a total of 93 participants drank energy drinks and had their “QT interval” measured, while 132 underwent blood pressure measurement.

The QT interval is an electrocardiogram measurement of how the heart resets itself electronically while it beats. A longer interval raises the risk that a “short circuit” will develop in the heart and could possibly kill a person. The study found that the QT intervals lengthened after people consumed the energy drinks. It is unknown whether or not the culprit is caffeine or the other ingredients like sugar, taurine, sweeteners and herbal supplements. The FDA would definitely raise an alarm if a medication produced this level of effect!

Further studies are needed to answer the question of whether the effect on the heart goes up as people consume more of the drinks at a time or if it reaches a ceiling and stays there. The study also found that the systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) jumped by about 3.5 points after participants consumed the energy drinks. This wasn’t an alarming find because of the amount of caffeine levels in the drinks, but if it’s going on at a chronic level it’s definitely a cause for worry. It is unknown whether these drinks need to be regulated at this point, but the American Heart Association is aware of the issue.

Let this blog serve as your warning. If you are one of many who consume energy drinks often, just be aware that it could be negatively affecting your health. Keep yourself updated on the progress of this study and maybe cut your energy drinking to a minimum, especially if you think the side effects could be harmful to you. Stay tuned!


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