Are Energy Drinks Safe?

Energy drinks are a growing industry with a market value predicted to reach $61 billion by 2021. 

Although commonly promoted as supplements that can boost performance and cognition, it is well known that excessive consumption of energy drinks can result in numerous and detrimental side effects.
It is estimated that about 30% of teenagers between the ages of 12 through 17 years in the United States consume energy drinks on a regular basis. Many teens admit to consuming more than two energy drinks a day. The research reported that a high percentage of teens consume 32 oz cans, which on average, contain 320mg of caffeine. Two or more cans equates to 640mg of caffeine which significantly exceeds the FDA recommended safe dose of 400 mg.

The research found that although a high level of caffeine intake can carry its own risks, it is the combination of caffeine and additional non-caffeine ingredients which are the greatest cause of concern. 

The reason for this is that energy drinks are considered to be arrhythmogenic – producing or tending to produce cardiac arrhythmia/ irregular heartbeat, and have been associated with cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, spontaneous coronary dissection, and coronary vasospasm. This association is strengthened with studies showing increased platelet aggregation, increased systolic blood pressure (SBP), and QTc prolongation which places additional pressure on the heart.
The greatest message in the current research is that energy drinks should be used with caution. 

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Effects of energy drink consumption on corrected QT interval and heart rate variability in young obese Saudi male university students

Consumption of energy drinks has adverse effects on the heart that might be potentiated in obese individuals. Since the incidence of obesity and use of energy drinks is high among Saudi youth, we used non-invasive tests to study hemodynamic changes produced …⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Energy drinks increase BP and disrupt the heart’s electrical activity

Consuming caffeinated energy drinks leads to a prolonged QT interval and an increase in blood pressure, according to a study of young volunteers who had their hearts tested after drinking either energy drinks or placebo. “Further investigation is warranted on whether an individual ingredient or a unique combination leads to the observed electrophysiological and hemodynamic changes,” wrote Sachin A.

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark