Dr. Daniel K. Thomas and colleagues from the cardiovascular imaging section at the University of Bonn in Germany presented the first evidence of the effects of energy drinks on heart function at the Dec. 2, 2013, session of the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.
The researcher ran cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on 15 male and three female volunteers with an average age of 27.5 years before and after the volunteers consumed one energy drink containing taurine and caffeine. Taurine and caffeine are two of the common ingredients in energy drinks. Caffeine levels in energy drinks are as high as three times the caffeine levels in soft drinks and coffee. Taurine is an organic acid that is naturally present in the human body and is known to have a cardiovascular function. Taurine in energy drinks is claimed to improve athletic performance.
The MRI performed on the volunteers one hour after they consumed a single energy drink showed significantly increased peak strain and peak systolic strain rates in the left ventricle of the heart. There was no difference between the two MRI scans that indicated any effect on blood pressure, heart rate, and the amount of oxygenated blood pumped by the left ventricle to the body.
The short term effect of consuming one energy drink may not be detrimental. The researchers plan further studies on the long-term use of energy drinks on heart function.
The scientists do note that emergency room admissions as the result of consuming energy drinks has doubled in the last four years and the people most often admitted to emergency rooms for energy drink related problems were between 18 and 39 years of age.