Many of us rely on coffee to give us an energy boost. Now more people, especially younger ones, have turned to energy drinks instead of cola or coffee. More information is coming available that energy drinks are more dangerous than either coffee or cola, and especially for children, adolescents, and people with blood pressure or heart problems.
The most recent research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The study was small—involving only 18 young, healthy men and women— but it was a well-designed with impressive results. The researchers divided the volunteers into two groups. One group drank a commercially available energy drink and the other group a cola drink. Each drink had the same amount of caffeine.
Energy drinks: Blood pressure and heart changes
For 24 hours after the drink, the researchers measured the subjects’ blood pressure and electrocardiograms. The results showed that the group that drank the energy drink had a significant change in their electrocardiogram. They had what is called a “prolonged QT interval”, of 10 milliseconds (10 one-thousandth of a second) compared to the cola group. The QT interval is a measure of how long it takes the ventricle of the heart to prepare for the next heartbeat.
Ten milliseconds doesn’t sound like much, but it is enough to predispose to cardiac rhythm disorders. By comparison, some medications that prolong the QT interval by only 6 milliseconds must contain a heart warning on their label. Regarding blood pressure, both groups showed a mild increase, but the cola group returned to their normal pressure within 6 hours. The energy drink group’s blood pressure, however, remained elevated for more than 6 hours.
The researchers concluded that, since the amount of caffeine in each drink was the same, that the differences must be due to other additives in the energy drink—such as the amino acid taurine, guarana, high vitamin doses, and high doses of sugar—that make the caffeine effect stronger.
There have been several deaths over the past few years from adolescents using energy drinks, sometimes in combination with coffee or alcohol. Over 20 thousand people visited the emergency room in the United States during 2011 due to a reaction to energy drinks. Many of these were children and adolescents.
Warnings by medical groups
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement that “energy drinks…should never be consumed by children and adolescents.” The American Medical Association would like to ban the marketing of energy drinks to children below age 18.
The study authors suggest that energy drinks, in otherwise healthy adults, should be approached with caution, but totally avoided by people with underlying heart disease or hypertension. Further, mixing energy drinks with alcohol is a bad idea, as the drink can mask the effects of the alcohol. You can be drunk but not realize it.
Read also in ProcuraMed:
Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)