Owen Extension Service News: New studies find link between energy drinks and heart disease

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By Judy Hetterman

Energy drinks are flying off the grocery shelves and are becoming increasing popular with teens.
Medical experts are concerned with the long-term consequences of these beverages, especially relating to the heart.  Energy drinks contain large amounts of stimulants, such as caffeine, which has been shown to boost both blood pressure and heart rate.  In some study participants, they caused heart palpitations.  Young adults who drank two cans a day for one week saw their blood pressure and heart rate increase about 10 percent for several hours after drinking.
Energy drinks can provide anywhere from 120 to 500 mg of caffeine.  
To put that in perspective, a can of cola contains 34 mg and a cup of coffee contains 100 mg, but that’s not all, many drinks contain other stimulants as well.  
Other stimulants typically include taurine (an amino acid) and guarana (an herb that contains even more caffeine).  
It can be difficult to know the total does of stimulants you’re getting because amounts often aren’t listed on the label.
Other risks associated with energy drinks include dehydration, insomnia, and headaches.

References:   Dunn, L. Energy Drinks and Your Heart:  Are They Safe? (2011)
McGilvary, A. Energy Drinks ‘increase heart attack risk’ (2010)
Sources:   Janet Mullins, Extension Specialist for Food and Nutrition, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

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