German researchers say that the energy drinks people consume have an effect on the body as these can intensify heart contractions because caffeine in energy drinks are more dangerous than those found in coffee. The researchers led by German radiologist Dr. Jonas Doermer of the University of Bonn said that energy drinks can increase heart contractions. He added that the ingredients found in most energy drinks sold in the market can affect the body’s physiological roles thus they wanted to know specifically if this also changes the body’s heart functions.
The research of Doermer was presented during the Annual Conference of the Radiological Society of North America at McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois. Recounting the methodology that went into the research, Doermer’s team took cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of 18 healthy volunteer subjects (15 men and three women and their average age is 27.5 years old.) The subjects were given energy drinks which contained taurine (400 mg/100 ml) and caffeine (32 mg/100 ml.)
After one hour of consuming the energy drinks the researchers took another MRI scans and noticed a significant increase in heart contractions among the subjects. The MRI results show there was an added strain on the systolic rates in the left ventricle of the subjects’ hearts. The left ventricle of the heart is the one that receives oxygenated blood that came from the lungs. The ventricle then pumps it to the aorta whose responsibility is to transport the blood all over the body.
The findings are relevant according to the researchers. For healthy people this may not sound too alarming and may not be a problem at all but for people with known or unknown heart disease the findings could be problematic and dangerous, Doermer said. He also said that increased caffeine consumption is not also recommended for children because this might cause arrhythmias. The researchers claim that the amount of caffeine in ordinary energy drinks is three times higher than those found in other beverages like coffee or cola.
Thus, continuous and prolonged consumption of energy drinks with caffeine can lead to heart complications and may put these people at risk. Doermer said that the side effects associated with continuous caffeine consumption can include palpitations, increase in blood pressure, increase in heart rate, seizures or worst of all-sudden death. Doermer also clarified that more studies should be conducted in order to fully understand the effects of caffeine on the body and the heart.
However, according to a Forbes article, the details of the study also show that the energy drinks the researchers gave their subjects contained 32 milligrams of caffeine per 100 milliliters. But when this data is compared with a regular Starbucks coffee, the popular brand contains 76 milligrams of caffeine per 100 milliliters. Clearly, Starbucks contained more caffeine than those given by the researchers to their subjects.
The group of Doermer also clarified that they still need to determine how long the effect of the energy drinks last. This is because the researchers admitted that they have shown that energy drink consumption can have a short-term impact on the heart and further studies are now needed to determine its effect long-term as well as its effect on people with known heart disease.
This study by the German researchers accordingly does not state categorically that consuming energy drinks can be harmful or has any lasting effect on people’s health. And if people who regularly consume Starbucks coffee are not worried about their health, why do people who consume energy drinks worry? There is still more caffeine in a Starbucks coffee than in energy drinks, the Forbes article claims.
The question of caffeine in energy drinks as being more dangerous compared with caffeine in coffee is still much debatable at this point in time, added the Forbes article.
By Roberto I. Belda