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Researchers Warn: Caffeine Energy Drinks Intensify Heart Contractions 

By Nelen Tambe — Researchers have warned that energy drinks packed with caffeine can change the way the heart beats.

This warning came after a research team from the University of Bonn in Germany imaged the hearts of 17 people an hour after they had an energy drink. The study showed that contractions were more forceful after the drink. The team advised the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America that children and people with some health conditions should avoid caffeine-charged drinks.

Dr. Jonas Dorner said: "Until now, we haven’t known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart. The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola. There are many side effects known to be associated with a high intake of caffeine, including rapid heart beat, palpitations, and rise in blood pressure and, in the most severe cases, seizures or sudden death."

The researchers gave the participants a drink containing 32 mg per 100 ml of caffeine and 400 mg per 100 ml of another chemical, taurine. To show a short-term impact, the researchers showed the chamber of the heart that pumps blood around the body, the left ventricle, was contracting harder an hour after the energy drink was taken than at the start of the study.

"We have shown that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility. We don’t know exactly how or if this greater contractility of the heart impacts daily activities or athletic performance, but the impact on people with heart disease is also unknown," Dr. Dorner said. The researchers advise that children and people with an irregular heart beat should avoid the drinks.

First published in The Post edition no 01485

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