Energy drinks may increase heart malfunction, high blood pressure risk

Henrietta Strickland
May 30, 2019

Drinking an energy drink in a short timespan may increase blood pressure and the risk of electrical disturbances in the heart, which affect heart rhythm.
One or more ingredients other than caffeine may be the cause of these changes. The former says its cans "pack a vicious punch".

The volunteers were in a fasted state when they consumed the drinks in order to provide the most accurate data, and the scientists monitored both heart rhythm and blood pressure every 30 minutes following the start of the experiment.

The placebo drink contained only carbonated water, cherry flavoring and lime juice. All of the drinks were placed in identical containers.

Usually, consuming 400 milligrams or less of caffeine should not make an impact on the heart beat, and the energy drinks used in the study contained between 304 and 320 milligrams of caffeine per 32-ounces.

Caffeine at doses under 400mg is not expected to induce any electrocardiographic changes, the study authors claimed.

Researchers measured the electrical activity of the volunteers' hearts by electrocardiogram, which records the way a heart is beating. They also had an increase of 4 to 5 points in their systolic blood pressure.

Four hours after consuming the beverages, the participants were found to have changes in QT interval, which is the measurement of how long it takes the heart's ventricles to prepare to beat.

The results showed the participants had QT intervals either 6 milliseconds or 7.7 milliseconds higher versus placebo drinkers. Intervals that are too long or too short can cause an abnormal heartbeat, which can lead to life-threatening arrhythmia.

Among the study's limitations, it was created to assess the effects of short-term consumption of an energy drink and does not provide insight into long-term effects nor the effects of routine energy drink consumption.

He warned energy drinks may be especially risky to patients with long QT syndrome - where the muscle takes longer than it should to recharge between beats. "Understanding how these drinks affect the heart is extremely important", said study co-author Kate O'Dell, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacy and director of experiential programs at the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Experts have warned people with congenital heart conditions and high blood pressure to limit their use of the drinks after the largest study yet found they caused substantial interference in the electric signals that govern the organ.

Its results confirm previous research that has suggested a link between energy drinks and heart problems.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Houston a year ago said the drinks narrow blood vessels, which restricts blood flow to vital organs.

But Government advisers said in December that there is not enough scientific evidence to justify such an extreme measure.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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