How Bad are Energy Drinks for Your Heart?
Energy drinks have become a staple in the lives of teenagers, college students, and workers.
This type of beverage is sold as a dietary supplement, that promises to boost concentration, improve physical performance, and reduce fatigue.
The drinks contain caffeine, sugar, and a proprietary “energy blend” that typically includes a combination of the following components:
- B vitamins
Unfortunately, studies show that the consumption of energy drinks has severe adverse side effects on heart health.
The impact of energy drinks on the heart is so severe that it could land you in our emergency room and could potentially kill you.
What the Studies Revealed
There have been several relevant studies conducted in recent years, here are few of the findings:
Study Findings of The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston
The study involved 44 healthy non-smoking students in their 20’s. Researchers performed special tests to measure the blood vessels ability to dilate.
The tests were done before the students were given a 24-ounce energy drink and repeated 1½ hours later.
The researchers found that after having the energy drink, the blood vessels were much narrower. Narrow blood vessels make blood flow more difficult, and this increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Study Findings of The University of the Pacific
A study funded by the University of the Pacific and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association
found that energy drinks alter the heart’s rhythm.
The study involved 34 adults aged 18-40. The subjects were asked to fast overnight and were then given two 16-ounce bottles of either an energy drink or a placebo.
The researchers then measured the heart rhythms of the participants with electrocardiogram and blood pressure readings every half hour for a total of 4 hours.
The study concluded that energy drinks significantly prolong the time it takes the heart chambers to contract and relax (QTc interval).
A prolonged QTc interval increases the risk of a person experiencing life-threatening arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and sudden cardiac arrest.
The researchers also found that the volunteer’s blood pressure increased by close to 5 points and remained elevated for about 6 hours after drinking the energy drink.
The energy drink industry is mostly unregulated, and this in itself is cause for concern.
Another concern is the amount of caffeine and sugar these beverages have.
The maximum dose of caffeine that is considered safe by the FDA is 400mg per day, and no more than 200mg per dose.
Shockingly, most energy drinks contain between 240-300mg of caffeine per 8-ounce dose. Not to mention that little is known about the safety of some of the other ingredients contained in energy drinks.
To make matters worse, some of the components may interact with certain gut bacteria to create a compound called TMAO. Higher TMAO levels are linked to heart attacks and strokes.
Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.
The Bottom Line
Energy drinks unsafe for consumption by anyone, but especially young people and anyone with a cardiovascular condition.
Healthy Ways to Recharge Your Batteries
- Get plenty of sleep
- Take a 20-minute nap
- Stay hydrated
- Eat small amounts of food more often
- Lower your stress
At Altus Emergency Centers, we have seen firsthand the devastating effects that energy drinks can have on a patient’s health. We advise you to avoid drinking them and warn your children about the potential risks of consuming them.