Study Links Energy Drinks and Heart Problems

The findings of a new study raise further concerns about the popularity of highly caffeinated beverages, such as Monster, Rock Star, Red Bull and others, identifying a link between consumption of energy drinks and potentially serious heart problems. 

Researchers from France presented findings at the 2014 European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona on August 31, indicating that energy drinks may be linked to an increased risk of angina, irregular heartbeats and sudden death.

The study looked at data on more than 200 adverse events reported in France, involving different energy drink products sold in the country. The data from those events were analyzed by 15 specialists, including cardiologists, neurologists, psychiatrists and physiologists.

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According to the findings, almost half of the reported problems involved cardiovascular symptoms. In addition to the 95 heart problems reports, there were also 74 psychiatric and 57 neurological incidents reported, which sometimes overlapped. Researchers identified eight cases of cardiac arrest or sudden deaths, 46 people had heart rhythm problems, 13 reported cases of angina and 3 reports of hypertension.

“We found that ‘caffeine syndrome’ was the most common problem, occurring in 60 people,” the lead researcher, Professor Milou-Daniel Drici said in a press release issued regarding the study. “The general public need to know that so-called ‘energy drinks’ have absolutely no place during or after physical exercise, as compared with other drinks designed for that purpose.”

Drici found that about 96% of the energy drinks sold in France contained caffeine, with a typical serving holding twice the amount found in a serving of espresso. The researchers also found that 52% contain taurine, and 33% have glucuronolactone.

Health Risks with Energy Drinks

Energy drinks have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly among teens and young adults, containing high levels of caffeine and other additives designed to stimulate the body and provide an energy boost.

The beverages are typically sold next to traditional soft drinks. However, while typical cola contains 35 milligrams of caffeine per can, some energy drinks contain up to 400 milligrams. The size of cans has also increased in recent years, with marketing often promoting fast consumption of a large number of the energy drinks.

The energy drink industry has come under increased scrutiny recently, as concerns mount about the potential health risks associated with energy drink products and some of the marketing practices, which target teens and young adults, as well as promoting the use of the drinks in combination with alcohol.

According to information from the FDA, there have been at least four deaths linked to Monster Energy Drinks and 13 deaths linked to 5 Hour Energy Shots. In addition, side effects of Rockstar Energy Drinks have been cited in at least 13 non-fatal adverse event reports submitted to the FDA in recent years.

According to a report in January 2013 by the Drug Abuse Warning Network, there were 20,783 energy drink-related emergency room visits in 2011.

The concerns and reports of injuries and deaths have sparked energy drink lawsuits from consumers and states. Monster Energy faces at least two wrongful death lawsuits tied to its Monster Energy drinks and 5-Hour Energy faces claims that it has conducted false and misleading ad campaigns about the side effects of its products.

1 Comments

  • American Beverage Association, ABA CommunicationsSeptember 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    First, it’s important to note that caffeine is considered a safe ingredient, and most mainstream energy drinks in the U.S. have significantly less caffeine than a similar size coffeehouse coffee. That said, U.S. energy drink makers take a number of voluntary steps – in addition to complying with all FDA guidelines. For example, drink makers feature an advisory statement on product packaging that m[Show More]First, it’s important to note that caffeine is considered a safe ingredient, and most mainstream energy drinks in the U.S. have significantly less caffeine than a similar size coffeehouse coffee. That said, U.S. energy drink makers take a number of voluntary steps – in addition to complying with all FDA guidelines. For example, drink makers feature an advisory statement on product packaging that makes clear these beverages are not intended (or recommended) for children, pregnant or nursing women, and persons sensitive to caffeine. Moreover, the industry has pledged not to sell or promote these products to K-12 schools. In other words, U.S. energy drink makers are going above and beyond to ensure these products are marketed responsibly to the audiences for whom they are intended. -American Beverage Association

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