In the recent past, FoodFacts.com has devoted blog posts to the growing concerns surrounding energy drinks and how they affect our health. There have been concerning reports linking energy drink consumption to deaths and hospitalizations. And those reports have been on the rise. We’ve been especially concerned about how they are marketed and how attractive they seem to teenagers and children.
A new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions shows that energy drinks can drastically increase blood pressure and disturb the heart’s natural rhythm. The researchers out of the University of the Pacific in Stockton the David Grant Medical Center, Travis Air Force Base in California used previous data published in several different studies. They were able to illustrate the effects energy drink consumption have on the cardiovascular system.
Energy drinks contain two ingredients that affect both blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. Those ingredients are caffeine and taurine. The researchers measured something called the QT interval, which is the amount of time in the heart’s electrical cycle that reveals the heart’s rhythm. Scientists measured the QT interval of 93 people after they had consumed one to three cans of energy drinks. For each can of energy drink consumed, the participants QT interval increased by 10 milliseconds. A prolonged QT interval can be associated with life-threatening arrhythmias.
It was noted that doctors are concerned when a patient experiences an addition 30 milliseconds in their QT interval. The association between energy drinks and a prolonged QT interval —especially considering the reports of cardiac death after their consumption certainly calls for further research and investigation.
The participants blood pressure reading also increased by an average of 3.5 points. This, along with the prolonged QT interval, is cause for caution before energy drink consumption. It’s important to note that children are at a higher risk for these problems than adults.
FoodFacts.com will continue to report research regarding energy drinks. Meanwhile, please approach energy drinks with caution for yourselves and your families. Help teenagers and children to be aware of the possible dangers linked to these beverages.