Energy drinks, turns out, may rev your body a bit too much. Indeed, guzzling one could up your blood pressure and disrupt your heart’s natural rhythm, finds new preliminary research that was presented at the American Heart Association’s recent Epidemiology, Prevention, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism meeting.
When researchers measured what is known as the QT interval (a measure of the heart’s electrical cycle, which determines the heart’s rhythm) after study participants drank one to three energy drinks, those who imbibed more sports drinks had a longer QT interval such that their QT interval rose by 10 milliseconds per each energy drink consumed.
A slightly lengthened QT interval signals an irregular heartbeat. One that is significantly longer is associated with dangerous, life-threatening arrhythmias.
Doctors tend to get concerned when patients have a QT interval that is accelerated by 30 milliseconds, said Sachin Shah, Pharm D, lead study author and assistant professor at Stockton, California-based University of the Pacific, in a statement.
Among a pool of data from 132 study participants, researchers also found that systolic (top number) blood pressure increased by 3.5 points, on average.
A past study that was presented at American Heart Association’s 2007 scientific sessions uncovered a similar association between consumption of energy drinks and higher risk of heart complications.
“The correlation between energy drinks and increased systolic blood pressure is convincing and concerning, and more studies are needed to assess the impact on the heart rhythm,” said Shah. “Patients with high blood pressures or long QT syndrome should use caution and judgment before consuming an energy drink. Since energy drinks also contain caffeine, people who do not normally drink much caffeine might have an exaggerated increase in blood pressure.”
It’s not only those with established high blood pressure, or heart issues, who should refrain from downing energy drinks, though. An early 2013 government survey revealed that the number of people nationwide heading to the emergency room for treatment after having had an energy drink has doubled over the last four years, to some 20,000 E.R. visits. The government report also referred to energy drinks as a “rising health problem.”
Do You regularly buy and consume energy drinks–Or do You steer clear?