Energy drinks high in caffeine change the way the heart beats and could increase the risk of potentially fatal heart rhythm problems, researchers have warned.
Healthy adults who consumed the drinks had significantly increased heart contraction rates one hour later. This means that the chamber of the heart that pumps blood around the body – the left ventricle – was contracting harder an hour after the energy drink.
The German researchers examined the effect of drinks high in caffeine and taurine – such as Red Bull-type drinks – on 18 healthy adults with an average age of 27.5 years. Each of the volunteers underwent MRI scan of the heart before and one hour after consuming an energy drink containing taurine and caffeine.
After the drink, these people had ‘significantly increased peak strain’ and contractility in the left ventricle of the heart – the part which receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it to the aorta, which distributes it throughout the rest of the body.
There are concerns about the products’ potential adverse side effects on heart function. This new study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.