Drinking more than two energy drinks per day can cause adverse heart reactions, such as fast heartbeat and heart palpitations, warns a new study.
The study conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide surveyed patients aged 13-40 attending an emergency department in South Australia with heart palpitations and found 70% had previously consumed some energy drink.
‘Energy drinks are more often consumed extensively by people who wish to reduce fatigue, increase wakefulness, and improve concentration and performance.’
Dr Scott Willoughby, the coauthor on the paper, said, "The study was able to find a direct link between energy drink consumption and hospital admissions for adverse heart reactions."
"Of the patients surveyed, 36% had consumed at least one energy drink in the 24 hours before presenting at the hospital, and 70% had consumed some energy drink in their lifetime," said Dr Willoughby.
"Eight of these patients had consumed a large quantity (more than five drinks), with one patient having consumed 12 energy drinks with alcohol."
"Those patients who were heavy consumers of energy drinks were found to have a significantly higher frequency of heart palpitations than those who consumed less than one per day. And, importantly, fast heartbeat and heart palpitations were seen in energy drink consumers who were healthy and had no risk factors for heart disease," he added.
Dr Ian Musgrave, from the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Pharmacology, said, "There has been increasing concern that the consumption of energy drinks may lead to harm. Energy drinks have become enormously popular in the past decade and a half are consumed extensively by people who wish to reduce fatigue, increase wakefulness, and improve concentration and performance."
Consumption of energy drinks has been increasing concern among health care practitioners and researchers. Caffeine is the major stimulant used in energy drinks, which are safe when consumed at the recommended levels. However, the combination of ingredients in the energy drinks may pose a threat to those who consume large quantities.
Energy drinks are combined with high levels of caffeine and large quantities of sugars, vitamins and herbal extracts. When vitamins and minerals are combined, they create a toxic combination. Energy drinks are even more harmful when consumed with alcohol.
"Anyone feeling unwell after consuming energy drinks should seek medical advice," said Musgrave.
Researchers concluded that they are not clear of what ingredients in energy drinks lead to adverse heart reactions and more research into this is urgently needed.
The study is published in International Journal of Cardiology.