A new study published June 4, 2019 in the Journal of the American Heart Association has raised alarm bells for finding a strong association between consuming energy drinks with a rise in blood pressure and disruption to the normal heart rate. In fact, damage to the heart and even death can occur as a result of these effects, especially in people that are at risk for heart problems.
Largest Controlled Study of Effects of Energy Drinks on the Hearts of Young People
The study led by Sachin A. Shah, professor of pharmacy practice at the University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Stockton CA, was carried out on 34 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 40. This was the largest controlled study of the effects of energy drinks on the hearts and blood pressure of healthy, young people.
Energy Drinks Caused Disruption in the Electrical Performance of the Heart and a Rise in Blood Pressure
The participants were selected at random to drink 32 ounces of one of two commercial energy drinks or a placebo drink for three separate days. Using an electrocardiogram (EKG), the researchers followed after the electrical conduction system of the heart. The researchers discovered that in those participants who drank the energy drink there was some disruption to the electrical performance of the heart that could lead to a problem with the heartbeat, a potentially life-threatening arrhythmia. Also, there was a rise in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
These Effects on the Heart are not Supposed to Occur in Beverages Containing Less than 400 milligrams of Caffeine
These effects are not supposed to occur in drinks that have caffeine levels under 400 milligrams and the energy drinks used in the study had 304 or 320 milligrams of caffeine per 32 ounces. According to federal dietary guidelines, three to five 8-ounce cups of coffee a day can also reach up to 400 milligrams of caffeine. Besides caffeine, the energy drinks also contained B-vitamins, a protein called taurine and glucuronolactone, which is a natural substance found in most connective tissue and also in the gums of some plants.
Young Americans Ages 12-17 Consume energy Drinks on a Regular Basis
Energy drinks are popular among teenagers and young adults and about 30% of young Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 consume energy drinks on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this has been linked to health emergencies that led to emergency room (ER) visits at hospitals and death.
The researchers say that health care professionals should caution people with heart problems and/or high blood pressures about the danger of consuming energy drinks and advise them to cut down on them or stop.
Energy Drinks for Seniors
Aging increases the risk for heart disease, and as energy drinks have shown potential dangers to the hearts of young, healthy people, seniors should consult their doctors about the advisability of consuming energy drinks. Seniors should also ask their doctors how many cups of coffee can be safely drunk a day, since three to five 8-ounce cups of coffee can reach up to 400 milligrams of caffeine. You can read more about aging and the risk for heart disease in our blog post from February 14, 2019.
Heart Disease in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but more than half of the deaths due to heart disease are usually in men.
About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year, which is 1 in every 4 deaths.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing over 370,000 people every year.
Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
Choose a Short or Long-term Facility with a Heart Healthy Cuisine
If you or your loved one are in need of short or Long-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing care, choose a facility that has good heart healthy nutrition like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. Van Duyn offers fine dining under the guidance of a registered dietitian.
Energy drinks have been shown to be potentially dangerous for the heart in young people. Seniors should consult their doctors about whether or not they should indulge in energy drinks.