How energy drinks can harm your heart
It’s no secret that energy drinks are loaded with caffeine. So much so that they may be creating additional strain on your heart, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
In a new study, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the heart function of 18 healthy volunteers. Each participant was then asked to consume an energy drink containing taurine (400 mg/100 ml) and caffeine (32 mg/100 ml).
An hour after the energy drink, a second MRI exam revealed a 6 percent increase in the participants’ heart contraction rate. The heart’s left ventricle was particularly strained, which is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood from the lungs out to the rest of the body.
“Until now we haven’t known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart,” said researcher Dr. Jonas Dörner, in a news release. “There are concerns about the products’ potential adverse effects on heart function, especially in adolescents and young adults, but there is little or no regulation of energy drink sales.”
The number of emergency department visits related to energy drink consumption doubled from 10,000 visits in 2007 to nearly 21,000 visits in 2011, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Earlier this year, a group of physicians, public health officials and researchers urged the government to limit the amount of caffeine in popular energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster to “protect children and adolescents from the dangers of highly caffeinated energy drinks.”
The researchers advise children and people with an irregular heartbeat to avoid energy drinks until more study is done.
“We’ve shown that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility,” Dr. Dörner said. “Further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of long-term energy drink consumption and the effect of such drinks on individuals with heart disease.”
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