Energy drinks have become a staple of the college grind and in the hectic workplace. Aside from living off of coffee, your late nights as an engineering student probably saw the consumption of a lot of sugary high-caffeine drinks to crunch through your last project. Unfortunately, we have some bad news for those who love a bit of jet-fuel while working.
In a recent in-depth study, researchers have discovered that drinking 32 ounces of energy drinks in an hour could do some serious long-term damage to your heart. In short, energy drinks could cause electrical disturbances in the heart.
The Energy Drinks Study
In the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers discovered that consuming 32 ounces -two cans of Monster Energy Drink, or just under three cans of Red Bull- can cause electrical disturbances in the heart for as long as four hours after you have had the drink.
The study included 34 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 40. Each of the participants was randomly assigned 32 ounces of popular commercially available drinks as well as a placebo to drink across three separate days.
The drinks each contained 304 to 320 milligrams of caffeine per 32 fluid ounces. However, participants were not knocking back or chugging energy drinks and were limited to drinking 16-ounces within 30 minutes.
Energy Drinks and Your Heart
Within 30-minute intervals after consumption, researchers took electrocardiograms to measure the electrical activity of subjects as well as their blood pressure and compared that information collected before the consumption of the energy drink. Finally, researchers measured the QT interval or the length of time it takes the ventricles in the heart to prepare to beat again.
Interestingly, the subjects who consumed the energy drinks had a higher QT interval at four hours compared to the placebo drinks. For the uninitiated, QT intervals that are too short or too long can cause life-threatening heart arrhythmias, which in turn can lead to heart failure, stroke, and even aneurysms.
Though more research is needed, lead author Sachin A. Shah, professor of pharmacy practice at the University of the Pacific believes this is enough to be concerned. In the report, he stated, “The public should be aware of the impact of energy drinks on their body, especially if they have other underlying health conditions."
"Healthcare professionals should advise certain patient populations, for example, people with underlying congenital or acquired long QT syndrome or high blood pressure, to limit or monitor their consumption.”
Currently, the best approach at the moment is that if you are going to consume an energy drink, do it in moderation.