At the recent 2013 American Heart Association meeting held in New Orleans, a review of previous research found that energy drinks could mess with one’s heart rhythm and increase blood pressure. These changes have the potency to cause irregular heartbeat, or even sudden cardiac death.
Energy drinks contain the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee, and taurine, an amino acid. Both of these ingredients are known to boost heart rates.
In a study done by the University of Siena, 35 healthy participants with a mean age of 25 drank a body surface area indexed amount of energy drink. One hour after consuming the drink, their average heart rates increased by 1.2 per cent.
These changes may seem small, but they can still affect certain people. Individuals with heart related conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) and heart disease should avoid energy drinks altogether, as it may aggravate the condition or interfere with the effectiveness of heart medications.
Although commonly practised, energy drinks should not be consumed when exercising as the combination of fluid loss from sweating and diuretic quality (promoting the production of urine) of the caffeine can cause severe dehydration.
Some people like to use energy drinks as cocktail mixers at parties. That in mind, mixing caffeine with alcohol poses a threat too. Caffeine is a stimulant, whereas alcohol is a depressant. By mixing both together, it makes it difficult for an individual to gauge his or her level of impairment. These stimulants causes an individual to feel more alert and less intoxicated, which may lead to the overconsumption of caffeine and alcohol.
While an increase in heart rate and blood pressure may not pose a threat to healthy individuals who drink energy drinks, it is recommended that one consume energy drinks in moderation. Do not overdo it by downing several cans in one day, and when you drink one, do take note of side effects such as racing heart, skipping or jumping heartbeat, feeling jittery, or anxious and extended dizzy spells.
Under the right conditions, consuming energy drinks may indeed provide an energy boost without causing harm. However, it is recommended that children, pregnant women and people with heart conditions seek medical advice before consuming such beverages.