In a world that works longer and longer hours, the norm becomes products that keep us awake and alert, quickly become necessities for millions of people. Coffee, the old standby, has great competition from sweet energy drinks, and the trend is growing across all age groups.
A new study published in The Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that downing the often sugary drinks is more than just an expensive habit, and it can actually play some seriously unpleasant tricks on our hearts, leading to emergency visits and even death.
The researchers involved in the study attempted to track changes in heart rate and blood pressure after a person consumed a popular energy drink. The samples, which included 34 adults aged 1
Volunteers were in fasting as they consumed the drinks to provide the most accurate data, and the researchers overcame both heart rate and blood pressure every 30 minutes after the start of the experiment. After four hours of monitoring, the trials ended and the researchers tasted the numbers.
Not surprisingly, the researchers found that different heart measurements changed significantly after a person had consumed one of the two energy drinks, but it should be quite obvious. An important change, however, was noted that could point to a cause of increased emergency visits and health situations related to energy consumption, and it is related to the time it takes for the heart to complete a single "beat".
The time it takes for the heart chambers to enter into a contract and then return to a relaxed state is known as a QT interval. The rate at which a heartbeat occurs can be affected by the overall heart rate, so doctors correct for that factor using a measurement called QTc. An elevated QTc is thought to be associated with severe heart problems, including arrhythmias and even heart failure.
The study shows that energy drinks dramatically changed the QTc numbers, which was significantly higher than those taking placebo drinks. The elevated QTc remained as long as four hours after the drink was consumed. The researchers note that it is unclear which ingredient or combination of ingredients most affects the QTc number and that further investigation is warranted.