The heart is arguably the most important organ of the body so what happens when we pump our system full of energy drinks? This article will outline 6 deadly side effects of energy drinks on the heart.
Research has shown that there may be some deadly side effects of energy drinks on the heart.
Energy drinks have become one of the most popular beverages, particularly amongst individuals with productivity in mind.
The energy boost provided during long hours of study coupled with increased concentration makes it routine for students and workers to drink several cans of energy drink just to stay alert, But do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Side Effects of Energy Drinks on The Heart
Here are 6 deadly side effects that drinking energy drinks can have on your heart.
Drinking lots of energy drinks has been shown to increase the QT interval of an individuals ECG.
The QT interval represents time taken for ventricles to relax and get ready for a new contraction.
Elongation of this QT interval leads to longer pauses between the end of a heart beat and the start of a new one, which in-turn can produce abnormal heart rhythms known as arrhythmias.
Certain types of arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation, if left untreated, can cause the heart to be unable to pump blood around the body leading to death in a matter of minutes.
Energy drinks contain large amounts of chemicals known as stimulants, of which caffeine and taurine are examples of.
The average energy drink will contain between 100 – 500mg of caffeine which is equivalent to drinking between 1 and 5 cups of coffee.
Caffeine has been linked with causing high blood pressure, but studies have shown this is often temporary.
Hypertension over time can however put excessive stress on the heart and blood vessels, causing them to weaken over time.
This can lead to increased risk of health problems such as having a heart attack, or heart failure.
Hypertension can also affect other organs. You are at an increased risk of developing a stroke due to loss of blood to the brain because of weaker blood vessels.
Consumption of large quantities of energy drinks has been linked with myocardial ischemia which refers to the reduction of blood flow to heart tissue.
This is usually as a result of stimulants raising blood pressure in the vessels which increases risk of clot formation.
Formation of a clot in coronary arteries can cause decreased blood and oxygen supply to myocardium leading to infarction of heart tissue.
cardiomegaly refers to an enlarged heart which is an example of cardiomyopathy that energy drinks may be responsible for.
In this condition, the heart becomes larger than normal and is no longer able to pump blood well.
This is often caused by high blood pressure brought about by stimulants in energy drinks.
Your heart will need to pump harder to ensure blood reaches every part of your body, but in doing so, heart muscle undergoes hypertrophy making it thick and enlarged.
5. Aortic dissection
This is a condition where the blood vessel pumping oxygenated blood directly out of the heart (aorta) becomes torn in the inner layer.
The rapid flow of blood between the layers of the aortic wall forces them apart.
This is a serious condition that can cause blood to flow outside the aorta if the aneurysm ruptures. This is often fatal.
There are multiple records of patients admitted to the hospital for aortic dissection after prolonged consumption of high quantities of energy drinks.
Patients often have history of heart disease and are often admitted with tachycardia and high blood pressure.
Cardiac arrest refers to the sudden halting of the heart pumping blood around the body.
This is often fatal as your brain is left without oxygen and can only survive in such a state for about 6 minutes.
The heart is unable to coordinate its own heartbeat, so chest compressions are crucial in this 6 minutes. Past this, brain cells begin to die at a fast rate.
This cardiac arrest is usually associated with the long QT interval because of excessive energy drink consumption.
Long QT syndrome has been known to cause sudden death in individuals as young as 18.
How energy drinks affect the heart
In summary, there are potentially deadly side effects of energy drinks on the heart. These negative effects often leads to loss or decreased function of another organ or organ system such as the brain or cardiovascular system.
Consumption of energy drinks in moderation is perfectly fine. Adverse side effects are usually only seen when there is prolonged and excessive consumption of energy drinks.
It is always advised to make an appointment with a medical professional before self-diagnosing and jumping to conclusions about any symptoms or concerns you may have.