Researchers analyzing data from several studies have determined that energy drinks may increase blood pressure and disturb the hearts natural rhythm.
The research presented at the American Heart Associations Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions took a look at seven previously published observational and interventional studies to determine how consuming energy drinks might impact heart health.
They examined the QT interval - a segment of the heart's rhythm on an electrocardiogram - of 93 people who had just consumed one to three cans of energy drinks and found that the QT interval was 10 milliseconds longer for those who had consumed the energy drinks.
QT prolongation is associated with life-threatening arrhythmias. When prolonged, the QT interval can cause serious irregular heartbeats or sudden cardiac death. The finding that energy drinks could prolong the QT in light of reports of sudden cardiac death warrants further investigation.
Researchers also learned that the systolic blood pressure the top number in a blood pressure reading increased an average of 3.5 points in a pool of 132 participants including young patients 18 to 45 years old.
"Doctors are generally concerned if patients experience an additional 30 milliseconds in their QT interval from baseline," says Sachin A. Shah, Pharm.D., lead author and assistant professor at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. "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 pressures or long QT syndrome should use caution and judgment before consuming an energy drink, Shah continued. "Since energy drinks also contain caffeine, people who do not normally drink much caffeine might have an exaggerated increase in blood pressure. People with health concerns or those who are older might have more heart-related side effects from energy drinks."
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