Do Energy Drinks Disturb Heart Rhythms and Increase Blood Pressure?
Recent research suggests energy drinks may the culprit in increasing blood pressure and disturbing the heart's natural rhythm. The studies were presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions.
Data from seven previously published interventional and observational studies was analyzed by researchers to determine the impact of energy drink consumption on one's heart health.
Researchers examined the QT interval of 93 people who had just consumed from one to three cans of energy drinks for the first part of the pooled analysis. It was found the QT interval was 10 milliseconds longer for those consuming energy drinks. QT interval describes a segment of the heart's rhythm on an electrocardiogram; when prolonged, this can cause irregular heartbeats which are serious, and in some cases lead to sudden cardiac death.
According to Sachin A Shah, Parm.D., lead author of the study, "Doctors are generally concerned if patients experience an additional 30 milliseconds in their QT interval from baseline." Shah is also an assistant professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.
Co-author Ian Riddick, M.D., went on to say, "QT prolongation is associated with life-threatening arrhythmias. The finding that energy drinks could prolong the QT, in light of the reports of sudden cardiac death, warrants further investigations." Dr. Riddock is director of preventive cardiology at the David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, which is also located in California.
The studies further showed that the top number in a blood pressure reading (systolic blood pressure) increased an average of 3.5 points among the pool of 132 participants.
Shah said, " 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. Patients with high blood pressure or long QT syndrome should use caution and judgment before consuming an energy drink."
One reason put forth for the increase in high blood pressure is that people who otherwise do not normally drink caffeine could be experiencing exaggerated blood pressure increases because of their sudden use of energy drinks.
The pooled studies looked at healthy patients who were between the ages of 18 and 45 years old.
"People with health concerns or those who are older might have more heart-related side effects from energy drinks," concludes Shah.
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