MAY 08, 2017 2:51 PM PDT

Energy Drinks Risky For Individuals with Genetic Heart Condition

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

The two main active ingredients in most energy drinks, caffeine and taurine, have been linked in the past to an increased risk of adverse cardiac events in people without any known heart disease genetic origin, but a new study tackles analyzing the risk relationship between people with congenital long QT syndrome (LQTS) and the consumption of energy drinks.

Semsarian says that "since energy drinks are widely available to all ages and over the counter, it is important that cardiovascular effects of these drinks are investigated." Image credit: Inc.com

LQTS is a rare, hereditary condition that can lead to sudden cardiac death due to the triggering of life-threatening arrhythmias. Past studies have linked energy drink consumption to increases in blood pressure, but the present study is the first to connect energy drinks to heart rate and adverse cardiac events in people with congenital LQTS.

"The potential cardiovascular risk of energy drinks continues to emerge as an important public health issue," explained lead investigator Professor Christopher Semsarian, MBBS, PhD, MPH. "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." Even consuming small amounts of energy drinks can cause changes that can trigger life-threatening arrhythmias.

The new study was designed to determine what cardiovascular effects, if any, stem from changes in the blood levels of two active ingredients - caffeine and taurine - focusing specifically on patients with familial LQTS. Researchers recruited 24 study participants, separated into energy drink and control drink groups. Those in the experimental group drank two sugar-free Red Bull cans, which each included 160 mg of caffeine and 2000 mg of taurine. The control group participants were given a cordial-based 500ml drink with no caffeine or taurine.

Electrocardiogram results and blood pressure measurements were recorded regularly, and the final results showed that three participants, or 12.5 percent of the study group, “exhibited dangerous QT prolongation,” an arrhythmia, following energy drink consumption. Two out of the three also showed a drastic increase in blood pressure, and all three had a documented family history of sudden cardiac death.

"Data suggest that the majority of LQTS patients destined to become symptomatic have the first event well after having become a teenager, which implies that a significant number of youngsters with LQTS will help themselves to energy drinks without knowing their real condition and thus endangering themselves,” said Professor Peter J. Schwartz, MD, Head of the Center for Cardiac Arrhythmias of Genetic Origin, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano.

"Some individual patients may be at a higher risk," Semsarian concluded. "We therefore suggest caution in allowing the consumption of energy drinks in young patients with LQTS."

The present study was published in the International Journal of Cardiology.

Sources: Elsevier Health Sciences, Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases

About the Author
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
FEB 22, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Gut Bacteria Imbalances and Heart Disease
FEB 22, 2022
Gut Bacteria Imbalances and Heart Disease
Patients with cardiovascular disease have significant disruptions in their gut microbiomes, says a new study by an inter ...
FEB 22, 2022
Cardiology
Beta-blockers as a Potential Treatment for COVID-19
FEB 22, 2022
Beta-blockers as a Potential Treatment for COVID-19
Beta-blockers are usually used to treat heart conditions and blood pressure, but they may also be useful for COVID-19.
MAY 17, 2022
Cardiology
New Study Identifies Heart Attack Risk Factors for Younger People
MAY 17, 2022
New Study Identifies Heart Attack Risk Factors for Younger People
Significant differences between young men and women were found regarding the risk of heart attacks.
JUL 07, 2022
Cardiology
Reduce TV Viewing to Prevent Heart Disease
JUL 07, 2022
Reduce TV Viewing to Prevent Heart Disease
According to new research, over 10% of coronary heart disease cases could be prevented by watching less than one hour of ...
JUL 18, 2022
Neuroscience
Lifestyle, More than Age, May Predict Dementia Risk
JUL 18, 2022
Lifestyle, More than Age, May Predict Dementia Risk
Multiple lifestyle risk factors for dementia may predict dementia risk more than age. The corresponding study was publis ...
AUG 02, 2022
Cardiology
Exercising 150-600 Minutes Per Week Leads to Lowest Death Risk
AUG 02, 2022
Exercising 150-600 Minutes Per Week Leads to Lowest Death Risk
People who exercise for two to four times the recommended amount per week see major reductions in all-cause mortality.
Loading Comments...