Jun 24, 2019 | Updated: 08:43 AM EDT

The Risks of Energy Drinks

Jun 09, 2019 11:12 PM EDT

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Energy drinks may promise a boost, but experts are increasingly concerned that their cocktails of ingredients could have unintended health risks. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that caffeinated energy drinks altered the heart's electrical activity and raised blood pressure.

The extent of these electrical changes -- which signal the heart's chambers squeezing and relaxing -- is "generally considered mild," according to study author Sachin Shah, a professor of pharmacy at the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at the University of the Pacific. However, people who take certain medications or have a specific type of heart condition could be at increased risk of a fatal arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, he added.

Just recently a 32-year-old mother was outfitted with a pacemaker after drinking excessive amounts of energy drinks. The New York Post describes a British woman and her quest to keep up with her three children. She needed energy, so she turned to energy drinks. She was drinking around five to six cans a day. Health issues started to plague her. Doctors insisted on fitting her with a pacemaker because her rhythms were dangerously off.

The main ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. When you drink more than one can a day, you're adding many milligrams of caffeine to your diet. The nervous system reacts with a hyperactive state. Your heart races, reports Healthline. Drinking many cans on a daily basis forces your heart to beat at irregular rhythms. Over time, the heart begins to lose its natural rhythm. Cardiovascular problems set in with subtle ease. You may not realize that there's a problem until a serious issue arises, such as a heart attack.

Energy drinks can certainly harm the human body when consumed in large amounts. Serious issues can arise even faster if there's a personal history of arrhythmia or heart disease in the family, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine. A health condition doesn't have to be present for energy drinks to make a negative impact either.

Energy drinks are also seeing a rise in consumption by young people, some 1,145 Americans ages 12 to 17 were admitted to emergency rooms for energy drink-related health emergencies in 2007, according to the CDC. That number climbed to 1,499 in 2011. As for most adults, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day appears to be safe, according to the Mayo Clinic.


Health experts advise that healthy adults who choose to drink energy drinks should not exceed one can per day.

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