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Negative Effects on the Heart From Energy Drinks

By Bryan Myers

Caffeine remains the most widely consumed drug. Present in chocolate and coffee, manufacturers also add the stimulant to sports and energy drinks. These beverages have become increasingly popular, especially with college students. According to 2011 review in "Kardiologia Polska," ingesting large amounts of caffeine increases the damage caused by heart disease. Energy drinks have other adverse effects on the heart as well. Speak with a doctor before regularly consuming caffeinated beverages.

Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest, or heart failure, remains a leading cause of death throughout the world. According to a 2004 review in the "Internist," people need to exercise more and eat less. Avoiding toxic chemicals, or at least minimizing your exposure to them, remains equally important. A case described in the 2009 volume of the "Medical Journal of Australia" illustrates the consequences of overindulgence. A healthy 28-year-old male athlete spent an entire day performing at a motocross competition. He consumed large amounts of energy drinks throughout that day. During the competition, the man experienced mild chest pains. At the event's end, he collapsed of heart failure. Paramedics were able to revive him, and he eventually returned to an active lifestyle.


Having bradycardia, an unusual slowing of the heart, places you at risk for heart attack. Arrhythmias remain difficult to treat despite increased medical knowledge and awareness. Nutritional supplements were thought to provide a treatment option. However, according to a 2005 report in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," supplements such as fish oil can worsen arrhythmias. An experiment presented in the 2006 edition of "Amino Acids" looked at the cardiac effects of substances commonly added to energy drinks. Healthy subjects received either caffeine and taurine or an inert treatment during a single testing session. The simulated energy drink significantly decreased heart rate, a symptom of bradycardia.

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is another common type of heart arrhythmia. The atrium, or the upper two chambers of the heart, flutters instead of clearly contracting if you have this type of heart pathology. According to a 1997 article in "Acta Cardiologica," caffeine can trigger atrial fluttering in animal subjects. Studies done with human patients have shown equivocal results. Yet, two cases presented in the 2011 edition of the "Journal of Medical Case Reports" indicate that ingesting caffeinated energy drinks can trigger atrial fibrillation. Two adolescent boys reported to the hospital with chest pains after drinking energy drinks. Each patient had no history of heart problems, but each boy showed atrial fluttering. Medication alleviated the flutter of one boy, and hydration resolved it in the other.

Postural Tachycardia

In postural tachycardia, your heart races when you quickly move into the standing position. Other health problems become associated with postural tachycardia. According to a study reviewed in the 2011 volume of the "Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine," people with postural tachycardia also experience a reduction in life quality and have difficulty sleeping. The mechanism underlying this syndrome remains unknown. A 2008 report in "Clinical Autonomic Research" describes the case of an adolescent volleyball player who regularly ingested excessive amounts of energy drinks. The hospital admitted the girl due to repeated fainting spells. Upon close inspection of her routine, the doctors determined that the athlete was inadvertently overdosing on the energy drinks. This toxicity triggered postural tachycardia that remitted when the girl stopped drinking them.

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