Most of the headlines we come across and pass along to you fine folk that involve energy drinks are usually not of the good kind. And here comes another media blast warning us that energy drinks are perhaps not something you want to ingest: A new study from a team of cardiac radiologists says when you guzzle an energy drink, it prompts your heart to contract a lot faster than it was before you tipped your head back.
In a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration this year, the cardiac experts noted that in your run-of-the-mill energy drink there’s up to three times as much caffeine as coffee or soda. Drinking that much caffeine can cause rapid heart rate, palpitations, a spike in blood pressure and even seizures or death, one of the researchers said in a statement.
He and his colleagues looked at the hearts of 18 people with an MRI scanner and then had the participants drink a beverage with high amounts of caffeine and taurine and then had their hearts scanned again, reports the Los Angeles Times.
An hour after glugging the drink, researchers found that radiologic measurements of heart strain were significantly higher than at baseline. They focused on the heart’s left ventricle, which pumps oxygenated blood from the lungs to the aorta and then throughout the body. There was a big change in the strain rates there, meaning that the heart was contracting faster.
“We don’t know exactly how or if this greater contractility of the heart impacts daily activities or athletic performance,” said one of the researchers, noting that the study is still ongoing. “We need additional studies to understand this mechanism and to determine how long the effect of the energy drink lasts.”
Monster Beverage Corp. issued a statement responding to the study, calling it “alarmist and misleading.” It said the paper definitely banged the nail on the head by noting that taurine “helps the heart function more efficiently by improving the pumping force of the heart without any changes in blood pressure or heart rate.” But instead of being a bad thing, that result is “is widely considered to be beneficial.”
Energy drinks speed heart contractions, MRIs show [L.A. Times]