If you find yourself resorting to energy drinks for that afternoon slump, you may want to think again. A new study has found that consuming multiple energy drinks on a regular basis can increase your risk of abnormal heart rhythm and raise blood pressure levels. If you already have a heart condition, you need to be especially careful.
The study results were presented at the most recent meeting of the American Heart Association in Phoenix, Arizona.
Twenty-seven healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 40 were given either two cans of an energy drink or a placebo beverage once a day, every six days, for a period of three weeks. Subjects did not know which drink they were receiving until the end of the three weeks.
Scientists measured their heart rhythms and blood pressure before the drinks were consumed, and took measurements four more times during the first six hours after they’d consumed the beverages.
Those who were given the energy drink had a statistically significant increase in a marker of abnormal heart rhythm risk known as QTc interval. They also experienced a slight rise in blood pressure. The effects persisted for two hours post-consumption.
In contrast, those who received the placebo experienced no rises in QTc interval or blood pressure.
One or two energy drinks on rare occasion is not the issue. But when energy drinks are consumed in large quantities over a period of time, there is cause for concern. Previous research has already suggested the detriments of energy drinks on cardiovascular health. However, the long-term effects are still unknown.
At particular risk is the college age population. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer health advocacy group, reports 34 deaths that may have been associated with energy drinks. Students need to be made aware of the potential dangers of energy drinks, as well as those with existing heart conditions. Education on the benefits of increasing sleep and natural energy boosting snacks is a must for young people.