Health Team

Health Official: Energy Drink Jolt May be Harmful to Some

Posted November 8, 2007

These days, high energy drinks fill a larger space on store shelves. But most of them pack more than just a high dose of caffeine.

The drinks also boast ingredients to rev people up, which may help some students pull off all night study sessions or help others stay awake at the wheel.

There's a new warning that affects as many as one in three adults.

Michael Schulze, 20, pops open energy drinks every day.

“I drive three hours a day,” he said. “I’m generally tired from lack of sleep, working late, whatnot.”

That extra jolt helps with his job. It may keep him alert, but a new study from the American Heart Association showed that boost can also affect the heart.

Every day for one week, healthy participants drank two cans of an energy drink with 80 milligrams of caffeine and 1,000 milligrams of taurine - a protein that also affects the heart.

“There was an increase in both blood pressure and heart rate in four hours after drinking these energy drinks,” said James Kalus, with Henry Ford Hospital.

Kalus, who was the lead author of the study, said heart rates increased five to seven beats per minute - and with rises in blood pressure. But the participants were sitting, not exercising.

The results didn't show problems for healthy people, but researchers said it may be harmful to people with heart or blood pressure problems.

“Patients who know they have a cardiovascular disease should avoid these drinks before we know more about what they do to patients with high blood pressure or [cardiovascular disease],” Kalus said.

Schulze said his stomach hurts and he gets a little fidgety when he has too many energy drinks.

He has also learned about other ingredients, such as niacin.

“[It] actually makes your entire body feel like it has needles going through it,” Schulze said.

But he's not willing to give up energy drinks just yet, he said.

The American Beverage Association says the drinks are safe and have a similar amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. But the researchers say additives may interfere with blood pressure medication.


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  • GulfWarVet Nov 10, 2007

    I fear for those on the NC Dieways if this guy's driving 3hrs at a time chuggin' these drinks to stay awake. They forgot to mention the word TOLERANCE in this article. That is exactly what this guy's body is going to become... tolerant of the drink and he'll need something MORE, something stronger...

    Or, it'll just not work eventually, or just become nothing BUT adverse, developing a sensitivity with such exagerated consumptive rates that he'd need to sustain to get the needed effect.

  • jailorjoe1978 Nov 10, 2007

    we could always ban caffine and any other stimulant that could potentialy damage the heart... then watch as they all turn to prescription diet pills, meth, or coke for energy. Hmmm... now that I think about it... maybe we should just leave them on the shelf after all.

  • shine Nov 10, 2007

    Sounds like self destruction to me...... I don't know how they allow that stuff for sale - knowing what they know about it. For crying out loud it is against the law not to wear a seat belt, but you can buy something that will make you explode.

  • gopanthers Nov 9, 2007

    I have a friend here visiting from out of state and she drinks two or three of these energy drinks everyday. And on top of that she drinks coffee all day long. I keep telling her that one of these day's her heart is going to explode. But she always say's to me "yea yea yea".

  • 68_polara Nov 9, 2007

    If you get heart palpitations caffeine could be the culprit. It feels like you heart is fluttering and causes slight dizziness. If you cut back on the caffeine and they go away than cut down on the caffeine. If they don't go away you had better see a doctor.