Saturday, April 4, 2015

Caffeine in Energy Drinks Have Negative Effect On "Young Hearts"

Caffeine in Energy Drinks Have Negative Effect On "Young Hearts"


In a short but crispy written article in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, authors have presented to masses the life-threatening side-effect that over-consumption of energy drinks (EDs) carry with them. EDs mainly differ from other soft and sports drinks regarding their high caffeine content and their promotion as a means to relieve fatigue and improve physical and cognitive performance. In true chemist langauage, what EDs provide to human body is Caffeine, labeled or in masked form alongwith many other organic molecules such as guarana, ginseng, and taurine in variable quantities, which may generate uncertain interactions.

Authors pointed out that Guarana (Paullinia cupana of the Sapindaceae family) is a Brazilian plant containing “guaranine,” which is nothing more than caffeine, in about twice the concentration of the caffeine found in coffee beans (about 2%-4% caffeine in guarana seeds compared with 1%-2% in coffee beans). Taurine is another such organic molecule that appears in many EDs,  is an amino acid that exerts a number of physiological functions, including cell volume regulation and inhibitory neuromodulation. None of these are studied in depth as to what kind of chemical/biological effects these can produce inside young bodies, other than "pumping" them with energy.

The extent of caffeine overdosage can be understood with the following analogy where a volume of 250 mL of numerous EDs contains 70-80 mg of caffeine, a similar quantity of tea contains about 30 mg and percolated coffee contains approximately 90 mg. Even if caffeine is widely used and generally recognized as safe, serious adverse effects have been reported when consumed in larger doses, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults with anxiety, seizures, agitation, migraines, sleeplessness, dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, arrhythmias, and other cardiac events.

Medical situations reported with EDs

The potential cardiac risk of large consumption of EDs emerged from studies demonstrating that caffeinated energy shots are effective for acutely increasing systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiac output. Taking clue from Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study where caffeine over-consumption was correlated with the incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) or flutter in almost 48,000 participants, the authors selected AF cases involving young ones, young adults and EDs. 

To further prove their point, authors have provided following case studies:

1. A 13-year-old adolescent boy experienced acute AF (an uncommon condition in children without structural heart disease) during a soccer training session after ingesting EDs.

2. 2 adolescent boys of 14 and 16 years presented with palpitations or vague chest discomfort after excessive ED consumption; AF was finally seen on an electrocardiogram.

3. Two cases of caffeine-induced ST elevation in 17- and 19-year-old adolescents were also reported after overconsumption of EDs.

Despite the popular belief that EDs are safe and efficacious for adolescents, a recent report demonstrated an association between the consumption of a can (250 mL) of ED daily and an increase in anxiety and depression in young adults under certain circumstances. EDs mixed with alcohol aggrevates such conditions further.


1. 250 mL of an ED per day is safe for most healthy adolescents. 
2. ED consumption before or during sports practice should be avoided. 
3. Adolescents with clinically relevant underlying medical conditions should consult cardiologists before drinking EDs. 
4. Excessive consumption of EDs together with alcohol or other drugs, or both, may lead to adverse effects, including death. 
5. Parents should also be educated to limit overconsumption or abuse of EDs by their children.

Article citation: Sanchis-Gomar, F.; et. al. Energy Drink Overconsumption in Adolescents: Implications for Arrhythmias and Other Cardiovascular Events. CJC 2015 April. DOI: