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Study says energy drinks alter heart function

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Consuming energy drinks containing caffeine and taurine may alter heart function in healthy adults, according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics.

In a study presented at the Radiological Society of North America, researchers tested 18 healthy adults who had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans one hour before and one hour after drinking an energy beverage. The drink used in the study had the ingredients taurine (400 mg/100 ml) and caffeine (32 mg/100 ml).

The researchers found that after a participant finished an energy drinks, he or she experienced a significant increase in contractions in the heart’s left ventricle, which receives oxygenated blood from the lungs.

Dr. Jonas Dörner, of the cardiovascular imaging section at the University of Bonn, Germany says, "Until now, we haven't known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart. There are concerns about the products' potential adverse side effects on heart function, especially in adolescents and young adults, but there is little or no regulation of energy drink sales."

Dörner said more research is needed to assess the impact of long term consumption of energy drinks, especially on individuals suffering from heart disease.

The journal says, "Energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit, and many ingredients are understudied and not regulated. The known and unknown pharmacology of agents included in such drinks, combined with reports of toxicity, raises concern for potentially serious adverse effects in association with energy drink use. In the short-term, pediatricians need to be aware of the possible effects of energy drinks in vulnerable populations and screen for consumption to educate families. Long-term research should aim to understand the effects in at-risk populations. Toxicity surveillance should be improved, and regulations of energy drink sales and consumption should be based on appropriate research."

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