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Are Energy Drinks Causing Heart Problems?

If you frequently reach for a sports drink to quench your thirst and boost your energy, you might want to reconsider: A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that energy drink consumption may have negative effects on cardiovascular health.  

The study involved 34 healthy people between 18 and  40 years old. On three separate days in a given time period, they consumed either 32 ounces of one of two caffeinated energy drinks or a placebo drink.

The energy drinks had 304 to 320 milligrams of caffeine per 32 fluid ounces, and contained additves such as B vitamins, glucuronolactone (a substance found in plants and connective tissues) and taurine (an amino acid). The placebo beverage was a mix of carbonated water, lime juice and cherry flavoring.

Volunteers had their hearts’ electric activity and blood pressure levels measured before and after drinking the beverages.The researchers noted that:

  • Four hours after consuming energy drinks, volunteers’ QT intervals, or the time it takes for the heart’s ventricles to prepare for a heartbeat, were 6 to 7.7 milliseconds higher.
  • The volunteers’ systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels rose by 4 to 5 mm Hg.

According to the study’s lead author, Sachin A. Shah:

“We found an association between consuming energy drinks and changes in QT intervals and blood pressure that cannot be attributed to caffeine. We urgently need to investigate the particular ingredient or combination of ingredients in different types of energy drinks that might explain the findings seen in our clinical trial,”

Considering that 30% of American teens aged 12 to 17 years old regularly consume energy drinks, this research shows that, in time, their risk for emergency room visits and possibly even death could be very real.

“The public should be aware of the impact of energy drinks on their body especially if they have other underlying health conditions,” Shah adds.

The good news is you don’t have to rely on sugar-loaded energy drinks if you need an energy boost — high-quality filtered water or low-calorie and low-sugar coconut water are good choices. If you want something to perk you up in the morning or afternoon, try making a cup of organic, shade-grown coffee without additional sweeteners or creamers.

If you’re not a coffee fan, then tea, particularly green tea, not only is refreshing, but has been linked with a reduced risk of stroke, diabetes and depression, as well as improved blood pressure, abdominal obesity and glucose levels. Just remember: Don’t add sugar!