The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Energy drinks could affect heart

By Shelby Lopez/reporter

Georgia Phillips/The Collegian  Above: NE student Michael Kubenthiran takes a break between classes with an energy drink. Left: Rows of energy drinks wait for students at the NE bookstore.
Georgia Phillips/The Collegian Above: NE student Michael Kubenthiran takes a break between classes with an energy drink. Left: Rows of energy drinks wait for students at the NE bookstore.

01292014Monster_3To get through the load of school and work, many students reach for energy drinks to stay on top of things.

Chris Fields, a NE student, frequently indulges in energy drinks the night before a test.

“I always drink a Monster before I study,” Fields said. “It keeps me awake and makes me more aware of what I’m studying.”

In December, the University of Bonn’s MRI studies revealed that energy drinks alter heart function. After researchers imaged the hearts of 17 people an hour after consuming the drink, results showed that heart contractions became more forceful, according to a press release from the Radiological Society of North America.

The researchers gave those participating in the study a drink containing high amounts of taurine, an amino acid believed to improve athletic performance. The results showed that after the drink was consumed, the left ventricle of the heart contracted harder.

Dr. Jonas Dörner, who led the study, told BBC News that the caffeine dosage in energy drinks is large.

“It’s up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or soda,” he said. “There are many side effects known to be associated with a high intake of caffeine, including rapid heart rate, palpitations, rise in blood pressure and, in most severe cases, seizures or sudden death.”

A 2013 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed an increase in the number of emergency department visits related to energy drinks. From 2007 to 2011, the number of visits increased from 10,068 to 20,783. The majority of the patients were 18-25.

Not all students use energy drinks for studying or gaining energy, such as Dominic Carrock on NE Campus.

“Whenever I drink them, I feel kind of shaky and dizzy,” Carrock said. “And on top of that, they don’t even taste good. They taste like cat pee.”

Dr. Woody Kageler, TR health sciences director, said energy drinks can be unhealthy in large amounts.

“Someone drinking one energy drink is virtually the same as someone who has a lot of coffee every day,” he said. “It won’t cause you any harm as long as they are consumed in moderation. One can per day wouldn’t do any harm.”

Kageler warns, however, that drinking too many energy drinks could be harmful, especially if the consumer has a heart condition.

“Too much can lead to serious conditions and maybe even hospitalization,” he said. “If someone has a serious heart condition, the effects can be worse, in which case I would advise them not to drink energy drinks.”

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