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Amped Up Drinks Alter Heart Function
When people gulp energy drinks to get their hearts pumping, they’re actually increasing strain on the organ, researchers reported. In a small study of 31 patients, having just one energy drink significantly increased short-term ventricular strain, a measure of the heart’s contractility, compared to baseline.
Most of the effect appeared to be due to the taurine contained in the drinks, rather than the caffeine. This naturally occurring amino acid in the body has been shown to increase release of calcium in muscles.
Sales for the multibillion dollar industry are growing every year and now there are more than 500 different brands available around the world. These energy boosters are full of compounds that have known stimulant effects, including caffeine and taurine. Additives, like taurine, may compound the stimulant effects of caffeine. That’s why it’s not surprising that emergency department visits related to energy drinks doubled from 2007 to 2011, according to a recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA). In 2011, about 20,000 Emergency Dept. visits nationally were linked to these buzz-inducing beverages.