Energy drinks contain more than three to five times the amount of caffeine found in one can of soda. The popularity of these drinks has skyrocketed since first introduced to the market, and with this popularity, increasing scrutiny. Heart rhythm problems, high blood pressures, and in some rare cases, cardiac arrest has been linked to these drinks.
Energy Drinks Powering Record Number of ER Visits
According to a report compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, ER visits due to energy drink consumption doubled from 2007 to 2011. Symptoms including rapid heartbeat, dehydration, anxiety, insomnia, and heart failure were primary complaints associated with these ER visits. Visits tallied included cases where energy drinks were consumed alone and in combination with alcohol, illicit drugs, or pharmaceuticals such as Adderall and Ritalin.
What Exactly Are Energy Drinks?
Energy drinks are beverages marketed for improving mental performance and increasing energy levels. Popular brands of energy drinks contain large doses of caffeine, herbal supplements, vitamins, and sweeteners. Because some of the ingredients included in these beverages are considered to be dietary supplements, the FDA does not regulate for safety or efficacy.
Caffeine in Energy Drinks
Caffeine is a common ingredient in diets around the world. It is commonly found in coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate. Since it is so commonplace, most people don't view caffeine as a drug. However, caffeine can alter performance. Caffeine is also addictive and can be toxic in high does. Safe levels of caffeine for healthy adults would be 2-4 cups of coffee, depending on the levels of caffeine in the drink. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should not consume energy drinks.
Caffeine levels in energy drinks may be higher than listed amounts. Because there is no legal requirement for energy drinks to list caffeine levels, there is no obligation for companies to ensure the levels listed on the labels are correct.
Cardiovascular Risks of Energy Drinks
The high levels of caffeine in energy drinks are linked to:
- Heart Palpitations
- Increased Heart Rate
- High Blood Pressure
Risks associated with drinking energy drinks are believed to be higher for individuals who have existing medical conditions. It's important to note that not all heart defects are discovered during childhood. Structural defects can remain undiagnosed into late childhood or adulthood. There have been many fatalities associated with energy drinks due to individuals having underlying undiscovered health conditions that resulted in heart failure.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding these drinks for good reason. In most cases, healthy adults consuming an occasional energy drink won't have a problem. However, if you find yourself consuming these drinks on a daily basis, or more than one each day to get going, you might want to see your doctor to discuss healthier ways to increase your energy levels.
What Should I Do If I Have Additional Questions?
If you have additional questions about energy drinks, your primary healthcare provider is an excellent starting point. Don't be afraid to ask them questions about consuming energy drinks. Anytime you have health questions, conversations with your physician are the key to helping you be a better, healthier you.
If you're experiencing any signs of heart disease or other problems that you believe may be cardiology issues, we strongly urge you to contact the Augusta Health Cardiology Clinic. Give us a call today at (540) 245-7080.