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Energy Drinks Jolt the Heart

Popular Drinks Boost Blood Pressure, Heart Rate
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 6, 2007 (Orlando, Fla.) -- Energy drinks may boost your blood pressure and heart rate as well as your vitality, researchers say.

In a small study, they found that drinking just two cans of a popular drink increased blood pressure and heart rate within four hours.

While the increases didn't reach dangerous levels in the healthy volunteers studied, they could be harmful for people with heart disease or who are taking medication to control blood pressure, says James Kalus, PharmD, senior manager of patient care services at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

"These people should avoid these drinks," he tells WebMD.

How about people at high risk of heart disease due to obesity, smoking, family history, or other factors?

"Pending more study, at least talk to your doctor about potential risks," Kalus says.

The findings were presented at the American Heart Association's (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2007.

Energy Drinks Raise Blood Pressure

In the study, 15 healthy young men and women drank two cans of an energy drink that contained 80 milligrams of caffeine every day for a week. All agreed to abstain from any other forms of caffeine for two days prior to and throughout the study.

Within four hours of consuming the drinks on the first day, systolic blood pressure (the top number) shot up by 9 points; on the seventh day, it rose 10 points. Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) rose 5 points on both days, Kalus says.

Heart rate increased five beats per minute on the first day; seven days on the last.

The volunteers were sitting in a chair, watching a movie, when the changes occurred, he says.

In contrast, many young people mix the energy drinks with alcohol and dancing. And some of the marketing for energy drinks is aimed at extreme sports, he says.

Since it wasn't studied, Kalus says he can't say for certain that mixing energy drinks with booze or exercise raises the risks. But some countries advise against using energy drinks to quench thirst while playing sports, according to the AHA.

And just yesterday, researchers reported that college students who mix alcohol with energy drinks are at higher risk for alcohol-related injuries than students who drink cocktails alone.

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