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Red Bull gives you…heart problems?

Whether it’s as a way of getting through a long shift at work, or partaking in a cheeky jagerbomb at the bar on a Saturday night, most, if not all of us have at some point in our lives drank an energy drink. Energy drinks have become a multi-billion pound industry, yet regulations on the products remain largely unchecked. Studies are now starting to show that the consumption of energy drinks can actually alter the way your heart functions, and in severe cases, trigger sudden heart attacks in apparently healthy young people. So never mind wings…. does Red Bull give you heart palpatations? Almost 1 in 3 twelve to nineteen year olds regularly consume energy drinks which can contain up to 3x more caffeine than a standard mug of coffee. This can lead to increased strain being placed upon the heart, and an international research team based in Spain has warned that this can lead to sudden cardiac death in the young and apparently healthy. According to studies conducted by Dr Drici `caffeine syndrome` was the most common problem associated with drinking too many energy drinks with symptoms including an increased heart rate, anxiety, tremors and headaches. Other rarer, but more serious effects included sudden death and heart attacks with the literature suggesting a link to these conditions with the consumption of energy drinks. These energy drinks are arguably especially risky for those with an already pre-existing cardiac condition where the intake of drinks with a high caffeine content can exacerbate the problem with potentially fatal consequences. This is a bit of a worry as many with a pre-existing medical condition aren’t aware of that condition until something happens as was shown by the high profile case of professional footballer Fabrice Muamba who collapsed on the pitch from cardiac arrest in 2012. Muamba recovered despite his heart stopping for 78 minutes due to numerous defibrillator shocks both on the pitch and in the ambulance, but it does show that even the apparently fit, healthy athlete can be at risk of a heart problem they are completely unaware of. Energy drinks can be especially harmful when mixed with alcohol and can cause what is known as `wide awake drunk` where you underestimate your level of intoxication and therefore can continue to drink more. Mixing alcohol and energy drinks can lead to problems sleeping, heart palpatations, panic attacks and weight gain due to the amount of sugar in energy drinks. Red Bull for instance, contains 27g of sugar which is roughly equal to 7 teaspoons of sugar! As with everything in life, moderation is the key and the occasional energy drink won’t cause you any harm. Studies have shown however than regularly consuming energy drinks over a short period of time can lead to changes in the way your heart functions and this can be dangerous, especially to those with an already pre-existing medical condition. For a multi-billion pound industry, is enough being done to warn people of the risks of excessive energy drink consumption? Three deaths have already been attributed to mixing energy drinks with alcohol as well as consuming several cans after an intense workout when the heart is already working hard, so should more be done to regulate energy drink intake especially among young people? Get the full study here – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0828282X14016675

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