Some Should Avoid Energy Drinks, Researchers Say

Study Shows Products Increase Blood Pressure, Heart Rate

They're everywhere: popular energy drinks that, for many, pack a powerful punch.

"Once I drink the drink, in less than like 30 minutes or so I get this energy boost that kicks in,” said John Howard Mayes Jr.

But that boost may pose a health risk if you have high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions this week.

Researchers at Wayne State University and Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit studied the effects of energy drinks on young, healthy adults. Volunteers drank two cans of energy drinks a day for seven days.

“If we see an effect in healthy volunteers, then we should expect similar effects in patients with cardiovascular disease,” said the study’s lead author, James Kalus, of Henry Ford Hospital.

Kalus and his team found energy drinks jolted the blood pressure and heart rates within four hours. Researchers say the blood pressure and heart rate increases didn’t reach dangerous levels in healthy volunteers, but they could be hazardous to people with heart trouble or those who regularly consume energy drinks.

"These energy drinks contain lots of caffeine. They contain lots of taurine, which is an amino acid that can stimulate heart rate, “said Dr. Bruce Schilt, a cardiologist at Riverview Hospital in Noblesville.

Schilt told 6News Staying Healthy reporter Stacia Matthews the study also raises concerns because chugging a couple cans a day may pose a threat to people who don't know they have heart trouble.

College students are especially vulnerable.

"These allow young people to drink and to party and stay awake and alert. They're lots of fun for a young person, but it's setting a dangerous precedent," Schilt said.

And he said energy drinks are especially dangerous when they’re combined with alcohol.

"Be careful, because even though you think you can get away with it, it increases your heart rate and blood pressure, and when added with lots of alcohol, it potentially places you at risk of a dangerous arrhythmia,” Schilt said.

Arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeats, can be fatal.

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