Gives You Wings or A Heart Attack

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As a fairly fit and active person I am constantly on the move and rarely spend my time off doing nothing. My weekends are packed with multiple football matches and I usually return to work on the Monday a bit stiff after over exerting myself throughout my weekend off. As is common with many people partaking in a similarly active lifestyle I also consume energy drinks, usually the glucose based brands, in order to stay refreshed and hydrated.

Although not often consumed I was however surprised to read an article on Red Bull this week, an energy drink plenty of other people consume regularly in a similar fashion to myself. Marketed as a healthy energy drink that give you wings, the story stated that Red Bull can increase the risk of heart attack for people with high blood pressure and heart disease.

Although using Red Bull as a case study, the survey the report is based upon does conclude there are heightened health risks with a range of energy drinks on the market. Such drinks are said to cause changes in the body in both heart rate and blood pressure which COULD put those with existing heart and circulation problems at increased risk. Why people with these conditions would drink such drinks bemuses me.

The experiment from which the results were drawn consisted of healthy volunteers consuming two drinks a day for a week, whilst regularly having their vitals recorded.

Within hours of consumption. . .

  • Active blood pressure increased by 7.9% on the first day and 9.6% by the end of the seventh day.
  • Resting blood pressure increased from 7% on the first day to 7.8% by the end of the seventh day.
  • Heart rates increased by between five and seven beats per minute.
  • Is it just me or are the findings above what you would expect from that of an energy drink? Increased heart rate and increased blood circulation, therefore increasing the amount of oxygen an athlete can get into their body and thus helping their bodies cope with the physical strain of active sport.

    The energy drinks industry is a £1.5 billion world wide market, and 3 billion cans of Red Bull alone were sold last year. The drink is banned in countries including France, Denmark and Iceland, and sold with warnings to children, pregnant and caffeine sensitive people in others. In the UK the drink contains 80mg of caffeine and 1,000mg of taurine, and is therefore marked with an EU standard high caffeine warning as is found in all drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine except tea and coffee. Would this research lead us to beleive morning brew also puts you at increased risk of a heart attack?


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