Energy drinks have gained popularity in recent years. However, a new study published by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) indicates that even healthy adults who consume energy drinks have “significantly increased” heart rates an hour after consumption.
Although teens and young adults have traditionally been the largest consumers of energy drinks, individuals from all demographics have been increasingly consuming the beverages. Dr. Jonas Dörner of the University of Bonn in Germany states, “Until now, we haven’t known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart.”
To evaluate the effects of energy drinks on heart function, a group of researchers led by Dr. Dörner recently studied 18 healthy volunteers (15 male, 3 female). The average age of the participants was 27.5 years old. Using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR), the researchers looked at the heart function of the participants before and after consumption of an energy drink.
One hour after the consumption of the energy drink, the researchers noted a significant increase in heart function in the participants compared to the baseline reading. In other words, energy drinks significantly increase an individual’s heart rate.
The main ingredients in most energy drinks are taurine and caffeine. As Dr. Dörner explains, “Usually energy drinks contain taurine and caffeine as their main pharmacological ingredients. The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola.”
Well-known side effects of consuming large amounts of caffeine include rapid heart rate, palpitations, increased, blood pressure, and even seizures or death.
This study indicates that consuming energy drinks has a “short-term impact on cardiac contractility.” However, addition research still needs to be conducted to assess the long-term effects of energy drink consumption as well as any effects energy drinks have on individuals with heart disease. Even more research needs to be conducted on mixed drinks that contain both alcohol and energy drinks, as the combination has also become increasingly popular in recent years.
Regardless, because of the increased heart function after the consumption of energy drinks, the researchers warn that children and individuals with cardiac arrhythmias should refrain from consuming energy drinks because contractility changes could trigger arrhythmias.
Caffeine and Taurine Containing Energy Drink Improves Systolic Left-ventricular Contractility in Healthy Volunteers Assessed by Strain Analysis Using Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Tagging (CSPAMM): http://www2.rsna.org/timssnet/rsna/media/pr2013/Dorner/abstract/Dorner-EnergyDrink-Abstract-LH.pdf
Energy Drinks Alter Heart Function, Study Shows: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269569.php
Mean Bean Energy Drink: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1144226