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One Popular Drink Greatly Increases Your Risk of Heart Attack
When you feel yourself low on energy, yawning all afternoon, ready to go home and take a nap but you can’t leave work for hours yet, do you reach for one of those energy drinks? Many people do, mistakenly thinking that they must be better for them than plain old coffee or green tea. Energy drinks are hip and cool because they give you wings, remember? They sponsor those extreme sporting events and think up those clever marketing schemes that make you believe that if you drink that can with the red colored bull on it, or the green claw marks down the side of the can, that you, too, will be a daring, creative person, filled with innovate ideas that are considered outside the box thinking.
What those clever marketing ploys don’t tell you is that most energy drinks, especially the one that gives you wings, has been linked to cardiovascular disease, including an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. That super popular drink has been banned in several countries including Denmark and Norway, and France stopped selling them for about a 12 year period.
The main ingredients in most energy drinks are sugar and caffeine. Many of the sugar free versions contain aspartame, a dangerous artificial sweetener that has been strongly linked to metabolic problems, allergies, neurotoxic, and carcinogenic compounds. Energy drinks thicken the blood dramatically while providing the body with unnaturally high levels of stimulation. Just one hour after drinking an average sized energy drink, blood thickness becomes abnormal and resembles the blood of patients with heart failure, according to the lead researcher at the Cardiovascular Research Center in Australia. Researchers state that consuming energy drinks in combination with high levels of stress or high blood pressure, can actually cause damage to the blood vessels in the body and increases the risk of blood clots. For those who have a predisposition towards heart disease, this is especially dangerous.
Besides the abnormally high caffeine content, energy drinks contain chemicals that have not been thoroughly researched. Many young adults love to mix these drinks with alcohol, which only adds to the dangers. Mixing an energy drink with alcohol is mixing a stimulant with a depressant. This is a confusing overload to the body, which can lead to serious health problems. In fact, when energy drinks are combined with ephedra, it can cause acute psychosis, according to an article that was published in the journal Medicine, Science, and Law back in 2001.
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The number of emergency room visits that were related to the consumption of energy drinks between the years of 2007 and 2011 nearly doubled. Most cases involved young adults between the ages of 18 to 25, followed by those aged 26 to 39.
In one study recently performed at the University of Bonn in Germany, researchers used an MRI to measure the function of the heart in 18 healthy subjects both before and then one hour after consumption of energy drink. All subjects showed a 6 percent increase in the contraction of their heart rate. Researchers believe that it is the unique blend of taurine, caffeine, and sugar in energy drinks that have this terrible effect on the heart.
Researchers also tested a second group using a drink that had caffeine only. Those subjects had no significant increase in their heart contractions. Although it is true that most energy drinks contain half the caffeine of a cup of coffee, but it’s the combination of caffeine, taurine, and sugar that seem to have these dangerous effects on the heart.
SEE ALSO: Killing You Slowly: Energy Drinks
Although this study only focused on the short term effects of these drinks on the heart, one can only imagine the potential damage to the heart that could result from long term consumption of these energy drinks.
The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate these drinks because they are classified as “dietary supplements,” so there have been no studies to determine the safety of these drinks. This terrible lack of regulation or oversight means that manufacturers alone are responsible for the safety of their product, most of which do not have any scientific evidence backing their claims that these drinks are safe.
Many people simply dismiss concerns because caffeine is common in modern day diets. It’s in chocolate, coffee, candy, sodas, tea, and other natural dietary sources. But make no mistake, caffeine is a drug that alters your performance levels, is terribly addictive, and can be toxic, even fatal, when consumed in sufficient quantities.
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Children and teenagers should never consume energy drinks as these are not required to list the total amount of caffeine the product contains. Some energy drinks also add other stimulants such as yerba mate or guarana, and these ingredients are not listed on the label since they are not required to do so.
The health risks that come with energy drinks are, of course, higher for those persons who have existing health problems such as heart defects, high blood pressure, or other types of heart conditions. However, it’s important to note that not all heart defects are known to people when they are born. Some people have structural heart defects that go undiagnosed until their teenage or even their adult years!
One or two cups of coffee per day isn’t enough caffeine to be a problem, but energy drinks in combination with coffee consumption, sodas, tea, and other sources of caffeine, or combined with alcohol, can be a deadly cocktail that is not worth a few hours of productivity.
If you want to improve your energy levels naturally you can do the following without risking your heart or your health:
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night
- Cut out processed sugar from your diet
- Increase your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (via fish or supplement)
- Lower stress levels and manage the stress you cannot remove
- Get regular exercise
- Improve your diet by removing processed foods, junk foods, and fast foods
- Consume more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every day
If you feel you might have a problem due to consumption of energy drinks or if you have a lack of energy that you cannot resolve with the above methods, consult your physician.
Apr 21, 2015 at 7:51 pm