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UOP: Energy Drinks Trigger Abnormal Heart Rhythms

Andrew Nixon/CapRadio

Andrew Nixon/CapRadio

Researchers at University of the Pacific in Stockton say they have more evidence that energy drinks may be bad for your heart.

UOP researchers wanted to see how much affect energy drinks have on heart rhythm. They looked at those squiggly lines you see on heart monitor machines and measured the distance between the Q wave and the T wave. Lead researcher Sachin Shah says it's known as the QTc interval.

"If the QTc interval changes,” explains Shah, “it can increase the chance a patient or a subject can go into an abnormal heart rhythm and even sudden cardiac death.”

Especially, he says, people who have congenital long QT syndrome, a heart rhythm disorder that can cause chaotic heartbeats. Shah says the problem is, some people don't know they have that condition.

"And if they take an energy drink,” says Shah, “it could unmask that long QT syndrome because they have underlying long QT and now they're taking something that's going to make their QT interval even longer."

The findings are based on a clinical trial in which nearly 30 volunteers consumed either energy drinks, a placebo or beverages containing panax ginseng which is an ingredient found in energy drinks.

Shah says researchers noticed changes in the volunteers who consumed energy drinks.

"What we found,” says Shah, “was that at two hours there was an increase in the QTc interval when compared to the placebo group. And the change was mild. But there are other drugs out there that have a black box warning for a similar degree of change."

The American Beverage Association says leading energy drink makers voluntarily place advisory statements on packaging stating that energy drinks are not recommended for children.

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