According to new scientific research, the consumption of energy drinks can lead to serious heart problems when dancing or exercising. This is because caffeine within energy drinks affects the heart’s ability to contract and to use oxygen which can lead to everything from irregular heartbeat to sudden death.
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A new study published in the European Society of Cardiology has shed new light on the adverse effects of “energy drinks” such as Red Bull and Mother on the heart. A team of researchers including cardiologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and physiologists analysed adverse events reported to French health agencies between 1 January 2009 and 30 November 2012.
In all, there were 257 reported cases relating to energy drinks, of which 95 involved cardiovascular symptoms, 74 psychiatric, and 57 neurological. Cardiac arrests and sudden or unexplained deaths occurred at least in 8 cases, while 46 people had heart rhythm disorders, 13 had angina and 3 had hypertension. The most common ailment was ‘caffeine syndrome’; characterised by a fast heart rate, tremor, anxiety and headaches.
Reported incidents were particularly high when combined with physical exercise due to higher demands placed on the heart.
“So-called “energy drinks” are popular in dance clubs and during physical exercise, with people sometimes consuming a number of drinks one after the other,” explained chief researcher professor Milou-Daniel Drici. “This situation can lead to a number of adverse conditions including angina, cardiac arrhythmia and even sudden death.”
Dr Drici stressed that part of the problem was that patients rarely mention consumption of energy drinks to their doctors unless they are asked. Subsequently, people with cardiac conditions are often unaware of the potential dangers that these drinks can pose to their health.
“The general public need to know that so-called ‘energy drinks’ have absolutely no place during or after physical exercise, as compared with other drinks designed for that purpose,” Dr. Drici said. “When used in long alcoholic cocktails, the caffeine in ‘energy drinks’ enables young people in dance clubs or elsewhere to overcome the unwanted effects of alcohol, leading to an even greater intake of caffeine.”
“Patients with cardiac conditions including catecholaminergic arrhythmias, long QT syndrome and angina should be aware of the potential danger of a large intake of caffeine, which is a stimulant that can exacerbate their condition with possibly fatal consequences.”