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Review: Energy Drinks Pose Hypertension, Heart Rhythm Risks

Energy drink cans (American Heart Association)

(American Heart Association)

A review of recent studies indicates consuming energy drinks with added caffeine can lead to heart rhythm disturbances and higher blood pressure. The team led by University of the Pacific pharmacologist Sachin Shah, presented its findings yesterday at a meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.

Shah, with colleagues from David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, drew data from seven previously published studies of energy drink consumption on heart health. The pooled studies covered healthy, young patients, age 18 to 45.

Their analysis of 93 subjects from those studies shows people who had just consumed from one to three energy drinks had QT intervals 10 milliseconds longer than those who did not have energy drinks. QT intervals describe a segment on an electrocardiogram showing the heart’s rhythm. When the QT interval is prolonged, it can cause serious irregular heartbeats or sudden cardiac death.

“The finding that energy drinks could prolong the QT, in light of the reports of sudden cardiac death,” says co-author Ian Riddock of Grant Medical Center, “warrants further investigation.”

The team also found that the systolic blood pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, increased by an average of 3.5 points in a pool of 132 subjects from the reviewed studies. “Since energy drinks also contain caffeine,” says Shah, “people who do not normally drink much caffeine might have an exaggerated increase in blood pressure.”

The New York Times in October 2012 reported that the Food and Drug Administration received numerous incidents of adverse health effects, including five deaths, linked to energy drinks. Among the adverse effects reported was abnormal heart rate. FDA published two listings of those reports — one for 5-Hour Energy, Monster Energy, and Rockstar Energy drinks, and a separate listing for Red Bull.

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1 comment to Review: Energy Drinks Pose Hypertension, Heart Rhythm Risks

  • Tom

    Most physicians do not know what causes high blood pressure. We know it is a pretty bad disease. I would appreciate others to continue research in this realm, and look into diabetes. Obesity is my living. I treat the obese people. Please come up with a solution, and let me retire.. TJ