SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

December 28, 2013

Energy drinks ding Heart

Cardiovascular / Cardiology

Energy drinks alter heart function, study shows

 by Marie Ellis

Energy drinks have become a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow, yet regulation of this enterprise remains largely unchecked. Now, a new study shows that healthy adults who consume energy drinks have “significantly increased” heart contraction rates an hour later.

The research was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

The study authors, including Dr. Jonas Dörner from the University of Bonn, Germany, note that although the  largest consumers of energy drinks have traditionally been teens and young adults, people from all demographics have begun to consume such drinks in recent years.

  • “Until now, we haven’t known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart,” says Dr. Dörner.

Meanwhile, a 2013 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that from 2007 to 2011 in the US, energy drink-related emergency department visits doubled, climbing from 10,068 to 20,783.  The researchers note that most of these cases occurred in patients between the ages of 18 and 25, but this was followed by patients aged 26 to 39.

Dr. Dörner talks about the contents of these drinks:

“Usually energy drinks contain taurine and caffeine as their main pharmacological ingredients. The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola.”

He adds that side effects associated with consuming a large amount of caffeine include a rapid heart rate, palpitations, rise in blood pressure and even seizures or death.   Energy drinks prompted increased strain in left ventricle

A batch of cans viewed from the top
Energy drinks were shown to increase peak strain and peak systolic strain rates in the heart’s left ventricle, according to the latest stud
A batch of cans viewed from the top

For their recent study, which is currently ongoing, the researchers measured the effect of energy drinks on heart function using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Study participants consist of 15 healthy men and three healthy women, with an average age of 27.5 years.

The team took cardiac MRIs of the participants both before and 1 hour after they consumed an energy drink, which contained 400 mg/100 ml taurine and 32 mg/100 ml caffeine.

Results show that compared with the images taken before the participants consumed the energy drinks, the post-beverage MRIs showed that they had increased peak strain and peak systolic strain rates in the heart’s left ventricle.

  • The researchers note that the left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the lungs, which it then pumps to the aorta for distribution to the rest of the body.

Though the team observed this significant change, they say they do not yet know whether it impacts daily activities or athletic performance.  (duh ? ?)

“We need additional studies to understand this mechanism and to determine how long the effect of the energy drink lasts,” says Dr. Dörner.

Contractility changes could trigger arrhythmias

The team notes that they did not find any major differences in heart rate, blood pressure or the amount of blood pumped from the left ventricle after the participants consumed the energy drink.

However, Dr. Dörner says their results show that consuming energy drinks does have a “short-term impact on cardiac contractility.”

The researchers say further studies are needed to assess the long-term effects of energy drink consumption, as well as any effects these drinks have on people with heart disease.

  • Despite the lack of knowledge about long-term risks, the team recommends that children and people with cardiac arrhythmias refrain from consuming energy drinks, as contractility changes could trigger arrhythmias.
  • A popular drink on the nightclub scene mixes energy drinks with alcohol and Dr. Dörner warns that additional studies are needed to analyze the risks posed by such combinations.

Medical News Today recently reported that a compound in energy drinks raises heart risks via gut bacteria.

(My Comment:

The study cited above involves a really small group of individuals which in the scientific community, doesn’t carry too much weight.  And I certainly agree, that more needs to be done — science needs to take a serious look at this from many angles.  Why? 

Because we’ve all noticed with increasing alarm the indiscriminate prevalence among our strapping, otherwise healthy young athletes at ever younger ages sometimes falling to the ground and even out of life itself and with no apparent reason.  Once or twice could be considered a weird freaky coincidence.  These days, most every time we turn around, some sound- looking youth has fallen with no explanation.  There was nothing in his medical records to indicate an explanation for what has happened.  Not good enough!   We need more than that.   

These sports drinks may be at the heart of this mystery — how would you and I know?  Much more needs to be known.  Am I reversing my prior thinking about stronger regulation of the supplement industry?  Without a doubt – NO! Tho, it does seem to be  — any issue at all will be used to wrench away from all of us thinking, intelligent people to make our own health decisions as to what we put into our body.   We are way too restricted as it is.  Far too many “natural,”  grown in nature sources have been removed from us, because BIG PhRMA resents our independent efforts to correct and heal ourselves when in fact, we have the smarts and desire to do so. 

Many products were grand-fathered in years ago before all the madness started, but steadily and surely, our ability to choose what WE want has been severely curtailed and it must not be allowed to go further to a police state. But that is not to suggest that there shouldn’t be legitimate oversight over anything which the population has a right to expect is logical, properly done and non-injurious to ingest.   

Take two of the ingredients from our story here;  caffeine and taurine.  I have no problem with either one of them – use both myself.  Coffee is universally in favor, generally in moderation even tho many abuse it beyond logical limits.  And taurine is used by some of the finest cardiologists in the nation with their heart patients to great advantage and in combination with other natural enzymatic-active amino acids like l-carnitine or l-arginine [which I also use].  Athletes generally know these names well as they are popular in the sports world.  

And this may be part of the appeal, that professional athletes use this stuff- big time and know what they are doing (generally).  They have good advisers, much experience which mostly culminates into fairly good judgement.  Can’t say the same for our young teenager on the sports field, so full of desire and ambition.   They see energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, 5-Hour Energy and Rockstar and it sounds right to them.  Never realizing that ten of thousands of people are being sent to emergency rooms because of them

So, it seems their investigation so far, has produced some fairly profound possibilities with regard to that left heart ventricle.  And these sports drinks being mixed with alcohol?   Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people truly honored their bodies and would be willing to do whatever it takes to insure it’s highest well-being  rather than always testing to see how much abuse it will take?  Ah,  well,  .  .  .  to each his own, they say,   Jan)


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