Energy drinks were first sold in the ‘90s and now there are hundreds of different options that are sold just about everywhere. Even though we all enjoy an energy drink every now and then, we all know that an excessive amount of sugary drinks can affect our health and specifically our heart.
In recent years, doctors and scientists have expressed their worries about how energy drinks can intensify heart contractions and provide additional strain to the heart. Most energy drinks contain caffeine, sugar and taurine and some even hold three times more caffeine than a coffee which can lead to a rapid heart rate and rise in blood pressure.
Caffeine is a natural nervous system stimulant that makes us feel more awake and alert. Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid that can be found in meat, dairy products and is also available as a dietary supplement.
Using MRI to measure the side effects
In 2013, the researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany investigated the effect of energy drinks with the use of magnetic resonance imaging. The scientists measured the heart function of 18 relaxed, young and healthy individuals and looked into the short-term effects on the heart.
All tests were performed at the same time, using the same MRI scanner and equipment. The volunteers were measured before having an energy drink, they were then given the same amount of energy drink that contained the same amount of caffeine and taurine.
The volunteers were then scanned again after an hour had passed and the results showed a six per cent increase in their heart contraction rate.
Picture from here.
From the initial study group, ten volunteers were randomly chosen to test the effect of drinks containing only caffeine. The participants were examined on a different day but used the same imaging technique and the same amount of caffeine as the first group.
This time around the patients didn’t show a substantial increase in heart contractions. From the outcomes, from both tests it appeared that the combination of caffeine, taurine and sugar had a significant effect but caffeinated only drinks didn’t have a massive impact.
Dr Jonas Doerner said, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the ﬁrst study, which directly showed that consumption of caffeine and taurine in ED increases LV contractility in healthy volunteers.”
“We only investigated short-term effects to the heart, thus further studies are needed to study the dose-dependency of cardiac interaction as well as the long-term impact of ED consumption. “
Although the study hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed or published, the conclusions make us wonder what the long-term impact of energy drink consumption is. Future studies will be needed to study the effects on kids and older individuals, especially patients with medical conditions such as heart disease.
Read the full research here: Caffeine and taurine containing energy drink increases left ventricular contractility in healthy volunteers
Please contact us if you’re interested in partnering on a research project. Newcastle Clinic offers open MRI scanning, ultrasound and image intensifying.