Energy drinks have been linked to a higher risk of sudden cardiac death and increased blood pressure among young people who may be unaware they have a common heart condition.
A joint study from the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) found people with a condition known as Long GT Syndrome experienced such significant changes to their heart rates, they were at risk of “sudden cardiac death”.
The study also found people with the cardiac rhythm disorder, which affects about one in every 2,000 people, are at risk of significant increases in blood pressure after consuming just one of the highly caffeinated drinks.
“Patients had a significant increase in their blood pressure of more than 10 per cent after the energy drinks, which was not seen in the control group,” RPA cardiologist Dr Belinda Gray said.
“These drinks are not as safe as people think that they are.”
Dr Gray said people had to be warned because many would not be aware they had the condition, particularly young people.
“That’s the group that these [energy] drinks are most heavily marketed towards,” she said.
‘Mixing alcohol with energy drinks common’
Study participant Barbara-Anne Tane, 34, has had Long QT Syndrome since she was 16.
She said mixing alcohol with energy drinks used to be a common thing for her to do when she went out with friends.
“If it wasn’t V it was Red Bull,” she said.
“Everybody was drinking them.”
At the time, Ms Tane said she was unaware of any health risks the energy drinks could pose.
“Now that they’ve (energy drinks) been around for years, they’re now a staple in many people’s diets,” she said.
“The study is really good, to put out [to people] what the associated risks are with energy drinks.”
Ms Tane said she stopped consuming energy drinks when she became concerned about possible health affects, particularly because of her heart condition.
But she said she was against discouraging other people including her friends from doing the same thing.
“For myself it’s more inherent because I have Long QT,” she said.
“But it’s up to the individual. Myself and my friends have had discussions about it.”