Taking Energy Drinks To Heart

Those energy drinks many people gulp down without a second’s thought are giving doctors cause for concern.
“These are the drinks that have a very high concentration of caffeine and other ingredients whose affects we may not know for a long time,” says Dr. Murali Muppala, a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
A single energy drink may have three to five times the caffeine in a same-size can of soda. Although it occurs naturally in more than 60 plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, and some nuts, the FDA considers caffeine a drug because it stimulates the nervous system. But it is also classified as an additive, meaning manufacturers don’t have to include its amount on a label. And excessive caffeine is at the heart of the matter.
“All the medications that have a stimulant effect can make your heart go- number one faster and also makes your heart beat stronger. And if you take too much of it, it can make significant cardiac arrhythmias,” says Dr. Muppala.
A new report on substance abuse found trips to the emergency room involving energy drinks doubled between 2007 and 2011; the age group between 18 and 39 being the hardest hit. In about half of cases, the buzz was boosted by another drug or alcohol.
“When people drink energy drinks at the same time they’re drinking alcohol,l people may not realize how intoxicated they are even though they’ve been drinking significant quantities,” says Dr. Muppala.
Children and teens, hard-core energy drinkers and people with underlying heart conditions face the biggest risk. And the added boost of stimulant may push them over the edge.

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