Energy drinks may be dangerous in persons with a genetic heart condition known as long QT syndrome (LQT). This is the finding of the first study to evaluate the effect of energy drinks on inherited heart conditions. It was published May 8 in the International Journal of Cardiology.
According to the team, led by Professor Christopher Semsarian at University of Sydney, Australia:
The population most at risk is teenagers and young adults, representing the population these drinks are most heavily marketed towards. Since energy drinks are widely available to all ages and over the counter, it is important that cardiovascular effects of these drinks are investigated
Persons with LQT are usually unaware of the heart condition and have a history of relatives that have experienced sudden death.
What are Energy drinks?
These are non-alcoholic drinks containing caffeine, taurine (an amino acid) and vitamins, in addition to other ingredients such as herbs. Popular examples include Red bull, Monster, Power horse, London Best, Spark and Bullet. Young people love energy drinks because of its ‘health benefits’ such as improving energy and performance. Additionally, many sports events feature adverts on energy drinks making it very appealing to young persons. The energy drinks industry is a booming, multi billion dollar industry.
According to a review published in the peer-reviewed health journal, Frontiers of Public health, several problems are associated with regular consumption of energy drinks such as:
- Caffeine overdose resulting in high blood pressure, vomiting and convulsions
- Pregnancy complications such as Low birth weight and stillbirth and miscarriages
- Weight gain and obesity
- Addiction to other drugs
- Risky behavior such as unprotected sex and violence
- Dental problems
- Poor sleep
Furthermore, it is important to note that many energy drinks contain ingredients that have not yet been evaluated.
What do experts recommend?
Children and adolescents should not consume energy drinks
Reduce or limit consumption of energy drinks if you have high blood pressure, and if pregnant or breastfeeding.
It dangerous to mix energy drinks with alcohol
Get adequate sleep, exercise and healthy meals to boost your energy levels and performance.
Consult your doctor if you are frequently tired. Sometimes it may be due to underlying serious health problems.