In the past several years, energy drinks have become so popular that the U.S. energy drink industry alone is anticipated to reach an astounding $19.7 billion in sales by 2013. With billions of people consuming these caffeinated concoctions, consumers and doctors alike are asking, “What effects do energy drinks have on our health?”
Dr. Matteo Cameli from the University of Siena is beginning to find those answers. Results of a study on 35 healthy subjects with a mean age of 25, who consumed specific body/ratio amounts of an energy drink containing caffeine and taurine, were recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress. The findings were surprising: Consuming energy drinks can exert positive benefits on myocardial performance.
Specifically, heart rate, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressured increased and both the right and left ventricular function showed improvement over baseline one hour after consumption of the energy beverage.
“Taken together these results show that energy drinks enhance contractions of both the left and right ventricles, thereby delivering a positive effect on myocardial function,” Cameli said. “This could be explained by the inotropic effect of taurine that, as previously demonstrated, stimulates the release of calcium from the sarcoplasmic reticulum.” (Calcium is essential for the contractions of the sarcoplasmic reticulum — a heart muscle.)
He continued: “Our study was performed in young healthy individuals at rest. Future studies need to focus on whether such benefits persist after long term consumption of energy drinks, and what the effects are of consuming these drinks during physical activity. It will also be important to determine which of the effects are induced in patients with cardiac disease to further our understanding of the potential benefits or risks of energy drink consumption.”