The Ignored Cost of Caffeine Consumption on Your Heart

Many of us depend on coffee to begin our day, but as the day drags on, we tend to turn to energy drinks to provide an extra boost to finish the day. In today’s society, people often find that there is not enough time in the day. “Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens and young adults.” About 30% of the population consume energy drinks on a regular basis. Energy drinks may offer a solution to our fatigue, but at what cost to your heart? 

Unforeseen Side Effects

Mental alertness and physical performance are the main attractions when it comes to energy drinks or supplements. Although this idea may seem beneficial, large amounts of caffeine correlate to serious heart and blood vessel problems. “A new study suggested that a single 24-ounce energy drink may impair blood vessel function in healthy young adults.” These energy drinks cause blood vessels to constrict, thus making it harder for your heart to function.

Even more than this, effects of caffeine that go unaddressed include anxiety, sleep problems, digestive problems, and dehydration. Overconsumption of caffeine spikes blood pressure, a problem that could potentially lead to cardiac arrhythmia. Ultimately, energy drinks are detrimental to your heart health and may contribute to a heart attack or stroke.

“Scientists have discovered that some energy drinks may contribute to altered electrical activity of the participant’s hearts and may cause hypertension.” The issues concerned with the heart chambers squeezing and relaxing are mild symptoms. However, overconsumption of energy drinks has been tied to greater side effects including elevated blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, seizures, strokes, and heart attacks. Up to 400 mg of caffeine is safe for most young healthy adults. Nonetheless, overconsumption can be harmful to your heart health. 

Energy drinks may offer a solution to our fatigue, but at what cost to your heart? 

The Illusion of Enhanced Performance

In contrast to popular belief, energy drinks and sports drinks are not transposable. These drinks fall into two separate categories. Sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade replenish fluids and electrolytes necessary for exercise, but energy drinks do not. Manufacturers of energy drinks market their products in order to indicate that athletes gain a competitive edge after consumption.

There are instances of college athletes where they have experienced dizziness, lightheadedness, and a rapid pulse during workouts. The team physician describes tachycardia, with the initial impression that the athlete is experiencing symptoms of dehydration. This athlete was consuming 10 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight, far in excess of the 2 to 3 mg/kg per body weight. Over a 24 hour period, there was a total caffeine consumption of 1070 mg as a result of his overconsumption of pre workout and energy drinks. At moderate to high doses of 5 to 9 mg/kg, caffeine can increase epinephrine concentrations 50% to 100% leading to rapid pulse and heart rate.

Deceptive Labeling

The main ingredients in energy drinks frequently contain large amounts of caffeine, sugar, vitamins, as well as stimulants such as guarana and taurine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for informing the public and regulating food and drug products. Their objective is to confirm products are safe for human consumption. For reference, soda has about 30 mg of caffeine per serving; coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine per cup. Whereas, energy drinks can have anywhere from 100 to 250 mg of caffeine per serving. Coffee and soda have to regulate their caffeine content otherwise they cause heart problems.

However, some energy drink manufacturers classify their products as food supplements where they can work around the FDA restrictions. “And while the FDA regulates dietary supplements and ingredients, it does so under a different set of regulations than those that cover conventional foods, leaving manufacturers able to put as much caffeine in them as they want.”  Furthermore, there are no laws on the product labels, so some companies can list inaccurate amounts of caffeine in these drinks without exposure. Consequently, some of these energy drink manufacturers may combine caffeine with stimulants to such a degree that could potentially cause cardiovascular and/or neurological concerns. 

Overconsumption of energy drinks is tied to elevated blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, seizures, strokes, and heart attacks.

In conclusion, even though there are short-term, beneficial side effects to caffeine intake, the negative effects clearly indicate that one should limit their caffeine consumption. Moreover, many of the ingredients found in some energy drinks are understudied and unregulated. It is crucial to take caffeine consumption seriously, and to monitor your heart health.

ACS Diagnostics, Inc.

Know what is going on in your heart. If you have any arrhythmias or heart issues, contact us today. ACS Diagnostics can get you in touch with a Cardiologist, or get a remote test sent directly to your home. Don’t ignore your heart, take control today!