Energy Drink Sparking More ER Visits
What That Energy Drink Just Did To Your Heart
Red Bull may or may not "give you wings." But along with other types of energy drinks containing caffeine and taurine, itcouldcause your heart to work harder than it has to, shows a new German study.
Researchers monitored the hearts of 18 healthy young men and women before and after they downed energy drinks. One hour after consumption, heart contraction rates significantly increased among the study participants. Specifically, the heart's left ventricle—which draws oxygen from the lungs before pumping it out to the rest of the body—strained more than usual, explains study co-author Jonas Dörner, MD, of the University of Bonn.
Past studies have linked energy drinks to insomnia, upset stomach, headache, heart palpitations and arrhythmia, seizure, and even sudden death, Dr. Dörner says. While his research didn't reveal anything so alarming, he emphasized that his experiment only looked at theshort-term effectsof energy drink consumption. And though unusual, he said that increased contraction rates—at least among healthy adults—are not in themselves dangerous. "These changes mean a higher workload for the heart," he says. But "how or if this affects older people or people with heart disease is still unknown."
Put simply, the research shows your heart works harder after consuming even small amounts of energy drinks—probably because of the taurine, Dr. Dörner adds. (He says taurine appears to increase the release of calcium in the muscle fibers of the heart, which may increase the strength of contractions.) Whether this is dangerous to your health isn't clear. "Further studies need to be done to address issues like long-term effects and effects in patients with cardiovascular disease," he says.
So should you stay away from energy drinks? The answer's yes for children and those with any type of heart condition, Dr. Dörner advises. But for healthy adults, his study didn't uncover any immediate risks despite the heart's increased workload.
More from Prevention: 7 Caffeine-Free Ways To Boost Your Energy
Video: What If You Only Drank Energy Drinks?
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