Most of us like drinking energy drinks. Some of them taste good, some sour and some awful. However, they provide us with calories and energy which is replenished quickly compared to a regular meal. However, are they risky?
Tossing back one to three energy drinks may result in more than just a buzz. A small-meta analysis found that immediately afterward, subjects had increased systolic blood pressure and, more troubling, they also had, on average, a 10-msec prolongation in their QT interval.
The study, by Dr Sachin Shah (University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA) and colleagues, was presented at EPI|NPAM 2013, the Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions.
Having increase in blood pressure is not so worrying as having a increase in QT interval. An abnormally increased QT interval increases the risk of having dangerous cardiac heart beats, some of which can cause life threatening cardiac arrest.
These drinks are not regulated as stringently as new drugs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The patients studied, were all young (aged 18 to 45) and healthy, underwent ECG and blood-pressure testing before and just after drinking one to three cans of energy drink—most commonly Red Bull, but also others such as Full Throttle and Meltdown RTD. An 8.4-oz can of Red Bull contains 80 mg of caffeine, compared with 35 mg of caffeine in a 12-oz Coke or about 100 mg of caffeine in an average cup of coffee. An increase of 10 ms and 4 mm Hg was found in the QT interval and systolic blood pressure respectively.
In view of the above findings, it would be advisable to restrict the intake of energy drinks in patients with high blood pressure and a congenital condition called Long QT syndrome .