Energy Drinks Are Bad for Your Heart, Says Study

Energy drinks: a product for people (most of them extreme sports athletes or gamers, apparently) who don’t have time for coffee or regular soda, but need to be hyped up NOW NOW NOW. Their labels list a litany of hard-to-pronounce and hardly regulated ingredients, and anyone who’s experienced the jitters and heart palpitations know that they work.

In some less-than-shocking news, it turns out that energy drinks aren’t all that great for you. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that in addition to raising blood pressure in the 34 college-aged participants, energy drinks can also slightly alter your heart’s electrical activity. Scary!

Watch: How to Make Brownie Energy Bites

To be fair, the results suggest that any such changes to how the heart’s chambers alternately squeeze and relax were fairly mild. But study author Sachin Shah, a pharmacy professor at the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at the University of the Pacific, told CNN that energy-drink consumption could still increase the risk of an irregular heartbeat for those with a pre-existing heart condition or who take certain medications. 

The study underscores the fact that even though energy drinks are a multibillion dollar industry (worth roughly $14.3 billion in 2016 according to at least one estimate), they’re still a mostly uncharted realm in terms of regulation. While ingredients like caffeine, taurine, guarana, B vitamins, and sugar aren’t illegal or necessarily harmful in and of themselves, their presence in potent energy drinks could cause problems. 

“The concern is that these vitamins, amino acids and herbals are often in higher concentrations than naturally in food or plants,” Katherine Zeratsky, a clinical dietitian at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota told CNN. “The effects when combined especially with caffeine may be enhanced.” 

That’s why energy drinks could cause problems for those who are pregnant, on pre-existing medications with stimulant-like effects (such as adderall), or those who just generally consume caffeine infrequently. And as the study’s results imply, those with high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat should probably steer clear as well. 

In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with a good cup of strong black coffee. At least it looks classier. 



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