Harmful effects of popular energy drinks on the heart revealed in new research

Popular energy drinks can give you a boost, but they can also contribute to potentially serious heart conditions, findings show.

A team of researchers, led by a professor at Texas A&M University, found that some energy drinks have detrimental effects on the muscle cells of the heart.

The study, led by dr. Ivan Rusyn, a professor in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences (VIBS) at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS), has been published in Food and chemical toxicology. In it, researchers observed that cardiomyocytes – human heart cells grown in a laboratory – were exposed to some energy drinks, showing an increased heart rate and other factors affecting heart function.

When placed in the context of the human body, the use of this drink has been linked to improper heartbeat, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood), high blood pressure and other heart conditions.

With global energy beverage sales estimated at $ 53 billion in 2018 and growing rapidly, it is important to understand the potential unintended health consequences associated with these beverages, Rusyn said.

“Because the consumption of this beverage is not regulated and that it is widely available to all age groups, the possibility of adverse health effects of these products is of concern and should be investigated,” Rusyn said. “The consumption of energy drinks is indeed associated with a wide range of adverse health effects in humans. Many of them relate to the effects on the heart.”

Researchers evaluated 17 commonly available over-the-counter brands. They then treated cardiomyocytes with each drink.

Researchers have also studied the composition of the energy drinks using new methods. By comparing the effects and different ingredient concentrations in each drink, they were able to deduce which ingredients may contribute more to the adverse effects on the treated cardiomyocytes. Using mathematical models, researchers have determined that the possible presence of theophylline, adenine and azelate, substances that can adversely affect the heart.

“Little is known about the ingredients that can contribute to the detrimental effects of energy drinks on the heart,” Rusyn said. ‘Specifically, the evidence for cardiovascular effects of studies in humans remains unconvincing, as the controlled clinical trials were largely limited to the number of participants. They have only tested a limited number of types of energy drinks and it is difficult to compare directly because they use different methods to evaluate the function of the cardiovascular system. ‘

Further investigation is needed on the ingredients identified in this study to ensure the safety of their consumption, especially by consumers with pre-existing health conditions.

“This study shows that some of the energy drinks tested may have an effect on human cardiomyocytes, and these data confirm other studies in humans,” Rusyn said. ‘Therefore, we hope that consumers will carefully consider the performance-enhancing benefits of these beverages against the emerging data suggesting that they may have real adverse effects.

“We also hope that the food and drug administration will take a closer look at whether these drinks should be carefully reviewed with regard to the possible labeling of their adverse effects on health, and whether certain age groups and susceptible subpopulations should be excluded from consumption. of these drinks. ”

Reference: “Ratios of Energy Drink Ingredients and Beating Parameters in Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) -Guided Cardiomyocytes” by Yu-Syuan Luo, Zunwei Chen, Alexander D. Blanchette, Yi-Hui Zhou, Fred A. Wright, Erin S. Baker , Weihsueh A. Chiu and Ivan Rusyn, January 12, 2021, Food and chemical toxicology.
DOI: 10.1016 / j.fct.2021.111979

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