2 May 2016 17 Respondents
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By Vanessa Peutherer
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Energy drinks can trigger heart problems in healthy teenagers, warn doctors.

One can a day is enough, they said, adding that youngsters need to be aware of the risks of over-consumption and of mixing them with alcohol or drugs.

Cardiologists in Madrid said the drinks, which contain large amounts of caffeine, may trigger sudden heart attacks and erratic heartbeats in young, apparently healthy, people. The dangers are greater for those with underlying heart problems.

The risk of triggering sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) or other arrhythmias where the heart goes into an irregular beat, can be significant for those with diagnosed disorders, it is claimed.

But a healthy boy of 13 who consumed energy drinks during a football training session suffered an erratic and fast heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation (AF) – a condition uncommon in those without structural heart disease.

Writing in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, researchers said energy drinks often contain high amounts of labelled caffeine but can also contain ‘masked’ caffeine such as guarana – a plant with twice the concentration of coffee beans.

They advised one 250ml can a day is safe for most healthy adolescents, but warn consumption before or during sports practice should be avoided.

In the UK, energy drinks carry labels warning that they are not suitable for children or pregnant women. 

Previous research has shown energy drinks high in caffeine change the way the heart beats and could increase the risk of potentially fatal heart rhythm problems.

Dr Sanchis-Gomar said ‘As energy drink consumption continues to grow, physicians are advised to ask adolescent patients whether they consume energy drinks, to be aware of the symptoms of energy drink over consumption, and to discuss the dangers of energy drinks alone and mixed with alcohol.

‘It is important for physicians to understand the lack of regulation in caffeine content and other ingredients of these high energy beverages and their complications so parents and children can be educated about the risk of cardiac arrhythmias and the potential development of anxiety and phobias accompanying excessive consumption.’

The researchers, writing in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, say there has been a rapid rise in popularity of energy drinks, with one-third of adolescents and young adults regular drinkers.

The drinks often contain high amounts of labelled caffeine but can also contain 'masked' caffeine in the form of guarana, for example, taken from a Brazilian plant which has twice the concentration contained in coffee beans.

Other ingredients including ginseng and taurine may produce uncertain interactions.

The research team's advises one can (250 mL) of an energy drink a day is safe for most healthy adolescents, but consumption before or during sports practice should be avoided.

Those with underlying heart conditions should consult cardiologists before drinking them.

Excessive consumption together with alcohol or other drugs, or both, may lead to adverse effects, including death, they warn.

In the past three years, more than 2,000 children under the age of six were taken to hospital in the US suffering from the effects of the popular drinks.

Their symptoms included serious cardiac problems - including abnormal heart rhythms - or neurological problems such as seizures and fits.

Experts have calculated that a child under 12 could be poisoned if they consume more than 2.5mg of caffeine for every kilogram of their body weight.

This means 50mg of caffeine in a day is enough to poison an average six year old.

A 250ml can of Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine, and a 500ml can of Monster Energy drink contains 160mg of caffeine.

The World Health Organisation last year called for sales of energy drinks to children to be restricted.


Do young people need protection from these products? Can a level of protection be acheived through such means such education and information or are more extreme measures warranted such as restricting sales to certain age groups? 

What do you think?

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Issu originally created by Amanda Lees - Vx Community

It is proposed that in our country there should be age restrictions placed on the purchase of energy drinks