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Energy drinks linked to heart troubles, researchers say

Energy drinks might be sending people to emergency departments. New research has linked the beverages to adverse heart reactions.

A University of Adelaide study reviewed patients with heart palpitations aged 13–40 attending an emergency department in South Australia, and found more than two-thirds had consumed at least one energy drink in the 24 hours prior to presenting. Co-author of the paper, U of A's Dr Scott Willoughby, said 70 per cent had consumed some sort of energy drink in their lifetime.

Willoughby said the study was able to find a direct link between energy drink consumption and hospital admissions for adverse heart reactions.

Eight of the patients in the ED had consumed more than five drinks. One had consumed 12 energy drinks with alcohol, he said.

“Those patients who were heavy consumers of energy drinks were found to have a significantly higher frequency of heart palpitations than those who consumed less than one per day,” Willoughby said. “And fast heartbeat, heart palpitations and chest pain were seen in energy drink consumers who were healthy and had no risk factors for heart disease.”

Dr Ian Musgrave, from U of A’s Discipline of Pharmacology, said in line with the growing popularity and consumption of these drinks there has been increasing concern among health practitioners and researchers.

He said: “Some people appear to be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, and the combination of ingredients in these energy drinks may pose a further threat to those who consume large quantities.”

Click to hear more from Ian Musgrave.

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