Increase in the consumption of non-alcoholic energy drinks also increases the risks of heart disease. More and more teenagers and adults are consuming energy drinks to have more fun during nights out in clubs or during full-immersion study nights, or simply during busy days. According to the most recent European data from EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), 7 out of 10 young people (aged between 10 and 18) and 3 out of 10 adults drink these drinks.
WHAT ARE ENERGY DRINKS?
Before going into the details of the scientific data, we need to understand what energy drinks are. They are drinks that contain different types of stimulating compounds, such as caffeine, taurine, carnitine, B vitamins etc. However, they are different from sports drinks, which contain only mineral salts, without stimulant compounds. As far as caffeine is concerned, for example, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) established that the maximum limit is 400 mg per day, the same quantity present in 5 cups of espresso coffee. As for energy drinks, it should be noted that, in general, a 25 cl / 8.4 fl oz can contains the same amount of caffeine as found in an espresso.
WHAT THE STUDY SAYS
Drinking nearly 1 liter/ 34 fl oz of energy drink over a short period of time raises blood pressure and increases the risk of heart rhythm disturbances. This is demonstrated by a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (May 2019). The study was conducted by a group of researchers led by Sachin A. Shah – professor of pharmaceutical practice at the University of the Pacific in Stockton in California (USA). 34 healthy volunteers (aged 18 to 40 years) were recruited and divided into two groups. The first was given two different types of energy drinks, in an amount equal to 32 ounces which correspond to about 95 cl / 32 fl oz (or around 4 cans of 25 cl / 8.4 fl oz). They had to drink them within about 1 hour for 3 consecutive days. The second group, on the other hand, was given a placebo drink (containing sparkling water, lemon juice and other flavors). The participants in the experiment who took energy drinks, in large quantities and in the short time interval considered, recorded an alteration in heart rate. Specifically, the QT interval (which measures the time it takes the ventricles to generate a new heartbeat) changed. After 4 hours, they saw a significant increase in the QT interval (from 6 to 7.7 milliseconds) compared to those who drank the placebo drink. This condition can lead to an alteration of the heart rhythm and to the development of an arrhythmia.
BETTER TO AVOID OR LIMIT THE CONSUMPTION OF ENERGY DRINKS
Furthermore, in the individuals of the group who drank the energy drinks had an increase in blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) of 4 to 5 mm Hg was also detected. This effect could be partly linked to caffeine intake. The effect of the other stimulants contained in energy drinks remains to be considered. Since more studies are needed about energy drink consumption. the experts recommend avoiding or limiting their consumption. Furthermore, doctors and health professionals should inform about their effect.
Sachin A. Shah et Al. – Impact of High Volume Energy Drink Consumption on Electrocardiographic and Blood Pressure Parameters: A Randomized Trial – Journal of the American Heart Association, May 2019
https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.118.011318 (Last viewed 04/30/2022)