Guided by its mission, AHA educates people on proper cardiac care and funds medical research on cardiovascular health and diseases. Recently, AHA published the results of a small study which analyzed the impact of consuming energy drinks on blood pressure and heart function. Researchers examined 34 participants, who were randomly split into two groups, over a three-day period. The first group drank 32 ounces of energy drinks within an hour period but couldn’t drink more than a 16-ounce bottle every half hour. The second group was given a placebo drink as a control.
Researchers then measured the QT interval of patients in both groups four hours after consuming each drink. The QT interval is an electrocardiogram measurement used to assess heart function, particularly on how long it takes the ventricles to produce a heartbeat. In the group who drank energy drinks, the QT interval ranged between 6 and 7.7 milliseconds longer than normal, a condition that could potentially create problematic heart arrhythmias. Additionally, the researcher found that both systolic and diastolic blood pressure increased in the energy drink group.
Lead study author Sachin A. Shah, Pharm.D., states that the findings show changes to heart function and blood pressure that go above and beyond side effects expected from caffeine alone. Dr. Sachin says more research is necessary to determine which ingredients (or combinations of ingredients) are responsible for the changes.