Study Reveals Energy Drinks Alter Heart Function

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — Caffeine energy drinks can have adverse effects on heart function, particularly in young drinkers, a study by German researchers finds.

A team from the University of Bonn in Germany studied the effects of energy drinks on 18 healthy, young adults and found heart contraction rates increased one hour later.

The report was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. Radiology resident Jonas Dörner, M.D., who helped in the study, said there is growing concern due to little or no regulation of energy drink sales.

“Usually energy drinks contain taurine and caffeine as their main pharmacological ingredients,” Dr. Dörner said. “The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola. There are many side effects known to be associated with a high intake of caffeine, including rapid heart rate, palpitations, rise in blood pressure and, in the most severe cases, seizures or sudden death.”

From 2007 to 2011 in the U.S., the number of emergency department visits related to energy drink consumption nearly doubled from 10,068 to 20,783, according to the Radiological Society of North America.

The study, which is ongoing, used cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to measure the effects of the drinks on heart function. Researchers said the results show the short-term impact of the energy drinks, but further studies are needed to learn the long-term effects.

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