Claim: Energy drinks trigger abnormal heart rhythm, rise in blood pressure

Wow… researchers discover that consuming two energy drinks at once will jump start your body for a couple hours. Nobel prize stuff — NOT.

The media release is below.


Energy drinks trigger abnormal heart rhythm, rise in blood pressure

A clinical trial led by researchers from University of the Pacific and David Grant Medical Center adds to the evidence that energy drinks may be bad for your heart. Results of the study will be presented today at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Our findings suggest certain energy drinks may increase the risk of having an abnormal heart rhythm when consumed in high volumes,” said primary investigator Sachin A Shah, an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “While we wait for more data, some consumers should exercise caution and not blindly follow the buzz.”

Phillip Oppenheimer, dean and professor of pharmacy practice at Pacific, said the findings are of special concern among young adults. “Energy drinks are widely consumed within the college population, which further extends the relevance of this study,” Oppenheimer said.

The study enrolled 27 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 40. Subjects drank either two cans of an energy drink, an equivalent volume of a drink containing panax ginseng (an ingredient in the energy drink), or a placebo beverage once a day, every six days, for three weeks. Neither the volunteers nor the researchers knew who was getting which drink until the end of the three weeks.

The researchers measured subjects’ heart rhythm and blood pressure before the drinks were consumed and four times during the six hours immediately afterward.

The volunteers who consumed the energy drink experienced a statistically significant increase in a marker of abnormal heart rhythm risk known as the QTc interval. These volunteers also experienced a slight rise in blood pressure. These effects persisted for two hours after the energy drink was consumed.

In contrast, the ginseng and placebo groups showed no rises in QTc interval or blood pressure.

Shah noted that some drugs contain a warning in their package insert when the drug has been shown to prolong the QTc interval to a degree similar to that seen in the study (6 milliseconds).

Energy drinks have been associated with sudden deaths. As of June 2014, the Center for Science in Public Interest, a consumer health advocacy group, had collected reports of 34 deaths that may have been associated with energy drinks.

According to Shah, more research needs to be performed assessing the heart rhythm and blood pressure effects of energy drinks, especially in those with underlying cardiac conditions such as congenital long QT syndrome and hypertension.


8 thoughts on “Claim: Energy drinks trigger abnormal heart rhythm, rise in blood pressure”

  1. I’m sure that many of the so-called energy drinks provide a number of stimulants that give a feeling of alertness and may cause any number of other side effects. Many also contain some B vitamins. The point is that none of these chemicals provide any biological energy. I believe that practically all references to calories in the medical literature actually kilocalories. But that is irrelevant in this discussion. What is relevant is that no substance that is “low calorie” can provide biological energy in any meaningful sense.

  2. Energy drinks often contain far more than just caffeine. They often contain a number of untested herbs, and a mixture of amino acids that can cause illness in susceptible individuals. Years ago it was the overuse of Ephedrine that added to the problems, and contributed to deaths. Now it is a mixture of ephedrine like compounds that stimulate the CNS. Coffee is the second safest drug next to marijuana–not that it can nevr cause heart palpitations, but energy drinks with a cocktail of ingredients pose far more risk.

  3. I wish to complement this website for having a full supply of humans who qualify as Homo sapiens. I get tired of those who only qualify as Homo irrationalis, or Homo vacuumus. Scientists know that nature abhors a vacuum.

  4. Something like this would have been round filed at even the undergraduate level when Colleges and Universities were still producing “science” instead of solicitations prospecting for the next federal grant.
    Every college student since the renaissance has know that if you drink a lot of coffee you will feel more energetic, even hyper with associated heart rate changes, until the caffeine wears off. At which point your body has a crash until the energy deficit is made up.
    Nothing to see here folks, No real content. Move along.

  5. I’m curious. Does 5hr energy drinks have 4calories or 4Calories ? 1 Calory=1000calories.


  6. Did I miss something here? No mention of caffeine which, as far as I know, is the only active ingredient of every “energy” drink I have seen. Caffeine is certainly well known to have an effect on heart rhythm–usually an increase in rate and possibly an increase in frequency of premature beats. The business about increased QTc interval is pure nonsense. I look at an average of 100 EKGs per day and have done so for over 30 years. Anyone even remotely familiar with EKG interpretation can tell you that it is very difficult to get an exact measurement of the QTc interval. To claim significance for a 6 millisecond difference or even to be able to accurately discern such a difference is preposterous. And, of course, the bottom line on “energy” drinks is that they don’t provide any energy at all. They may provide increased alertness due to the caffeine but no more so than coffee or any other beverage containing caffeine. Many “energy” drinks claim to have only a few or even no calories e.g. 5-Hour Energy brags that it only contains 4 calories. But the last time I checked, the calorie was still the unit of biological energy. So no calories–no energy.

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