An energy drink is packed with three times more caffeine than coffee or cola, giving an instant boost to energy levels. But such drinks may spell heart troubles, researchers warn.
According to the findings of a new study, frequent and rapid consumption of energy drinks significantly increases heart contraction rates, putting drinkers at high risk of heart failure.
The contractions were the most intense one hour after the drink, the team found.
“Until now, we haven’t known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart,” study’s lead researcher Dr Jonas Dorner said.
“There are many side effects known to be associated with a high intake of caffeine, including rapid heart rate, palpitations, spike in blood pressure and, in the most severe cases, seizures or sudden death.”
For the purpose of the study, researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany recruited 18 healthy adults, including 15 males and 3 females averaging 27.5 years.
All participants underwent heart scans to provide the scores of the radiologic functioning of their heart at baseline.
Thereafter, the participants were administered an experimental energy drink. Each 100 ml of energy drink contained 32 mg of caffeine and 400 mg of taurine, another key ingredient of energy drinks.
The exact quantity of energy drink consumed varied according to the size of the subject. An hour after taking their drink, the participants again underwent heart scans using 1.5-Tesla MRI scanner.
This time around, the heart’s left ventricle, chamber of the heart responsible for pumping blood, was contracting faster and more forcefully than it was doing at baseline levels, researchers found. The heart scans displayed significantly higher peak strain and peak systolic strain rates.
However, there was no significant difference in heart rate and blood pressure scores at baseline and later levels.
Also, the amount of blood pumped from the heart’s left ventricle was the same in both scans.
“We’ve shown that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility,” Dorner said.
The findings of the study were presented Monday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.