Energy drinks raise blood pressure, lead to heart condition

14 November, 2007

Beware of the drinks that are supposed to give you “energy.” They could raise your blood pressure and may even lead to cardiovascular problems and stroke.

In a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2007 in Orlando, Florida, the United States, the researchers warned that energy drinks might considerably enhance one’s blood pressure and heart rate.

The study, conducted by researchers at Wayne State University, the United States, warns those suffering from heart disease or high blood pressure to avoid totally “energy drinks” that contain caffeine and taurine.

Lead researcher James Kalus, of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and colleagues studied 15 healthy men and women, whose average age was 26, and who did not take any other caffeine beverage for one week.

The healthy volunteers were given to drink a popular beverage that contained 80 milligrams of caffeine and 1,000 milligrams of taurine. Their blood pressure and heart rate were measured before and after drinking two cans of the drink.

After taking the drink, the researchers measured the healthy young adult’s blood pressure, heart rate, and electrocardiogram (ECG) at 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, three hours, and four hours.

The electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the electrical activity of a heartbeat, showed that just two cans of energy drink increased the blood pressure of healthy young adults by 5 to 10 points and the levels of heart rate by 5 to 7 beats a minute within four hours of taking the energy drink.

“While energy drinks increase concentration and wakefulness,” says James Kalus, “people with risk factors for heart disease could have a bad reaction. The subjects in this study were healthy with low blood pressure.”

However, the level of blood pressure did not rise to risky levels in the group of healthy people who took part in the study, but the increase could be considered serious in persons with heart disease or high blood pressure, the study suggests.

The researchers at Wayne State University refused to reveal the brand of the energy drink they used in the study, but said each can of the drink contained 80 milligrams of caffeine and 1,000 milligrams of taurine.

“Energy drinks” are canned or bottled beverages targeted primarily at people between the ages of 18 and 30 as a stimulant.

These drinks usually contain caffeine (which is a methylxanthine present in tea and coffee), taurine (an amino acid found in protein-rich foods like meat and fish believed to make people alert), herbal stimulant guarana (extracts from the guarana plant), various forms of ginseng, maltodextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone and ginkgo biloba.

In the United States, the sales of energy drinks were worth nearly $3.5 billion in 2006, and may reach $5 billion in 2007, according to Beverage Digest.





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