Two studies suggest energy drinks can have negative effects on heart, cardiovascular system

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

Two recent studies show possible negative bodily effects from energy drinks. Pic: iStock / Mauro Matacchione
Two recent studies show possible negative bodily effects from energy drinks. Pic: iStock / Mauro Matacchione

Related tags Energy drinks

Scientists have found evidence of negative effects on the heart and cardiovascular system from energy drinks in two recent studies.

Higher blood pressure, palpitations

One study, titled Energy drinks: Increasing evidence of negative cardiovascular effects​, found that two or more cans of energy drinks​ in one day was “associated with higher diastolic blood pressure as well as increased frequency of palpitations, rising with co-ingestion of alcohol, even in healthy individuals without cardiovascular risk factors”.

In addition, this study found that these drinks could pose an even greater risk to health when they are mixed with other illicit drugs, including death.

Researchers said there have been a number of case reports that links energy drinks with myocardial ischemia, which occurs when blood to the heart is reduced. Consumption of the drink should be avoided by adolescents in order to avoid negative cardiovascular effects, they wrote.

“Although further research in larger randomized or prospective studies is warranted to establish an unequivocal link between EDs' intake and increased cardiovascular complications, clear guidelines for physicians would be welcome in order to educate and advertise the general population about the adverse cardiovascular effects of large EDs' consumption as well as to achieve responsible use,”​ researchers wrote in the report.

Palpitations possible

A separate study, titled A survey of energy drink consumption among young patients presenting to the emergency department with the symptom of palpitations​, surveyed patients at a South Australian hospital between 2014 and 2015, 36% of which had ingested an energy drink within 24 hours of going to the hospital.

“Given the potential adverse effects of energy drink consumption we conducted a survey to determine the impact of these drinks on emergency department presentations in otherwise healthy young adults,”​ these researchers wrote.

Researchers in this study found that those who consumed more than one energy drink per day had a greater chance of experiencing heart palpitations.

In a 2014 survey by Canadean, six out of 10 consumers​ believed energy drink consumption was bad for their health and were concerned about the ingredients these drinks contained.

However, Mintel reported in 2015 that consumption was still common among millennials. Approximately 64% of millennials ages 27 to 27 consume energy drinks​ and 29% have consumed more than usual in the past three months.

There is now a growing body of energy drinks on the market which substitute caffeine and other ingredients for natural alternatives, such as green tea extract and vitamin B.

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1 comment

ABA Comment

Posted by American Beverage Association, ABA Communications,

First, there is nothing unique about the caffeine in mainstream energy drinks, which is about half that of a similar sized cup of coffeehouse coffee. In fact, energy drinks contribute only about 2 percent of caffeine intake - from all sources - in the American diet.

Second, the safety of energy drinks has been established by scientific research as well as regulatory agencies around the globe. In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed the safety of energy drinks and their ingredients after an extensive review. And in the United States, energy drinks, their ingredients and labeling are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Even so, America’s leading energy drink manufacturers voluntarily go far beyond all federal requirements when it comes to responsible labeling and marketing practices, including displaying total caffeine content – from all sources – on their packages along with advisory statements indicating that the product is not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women and persons sensitive to caffeine.

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