Are We Sitting On Yet Another Health Scare Time Bomb?

OK listen up folks. Consuming Energy drinks could be bad for High Blood Pressure. This is potentially some interesting stuff in that a study has been published recently that in all essence is actually quite a small study and hence the findings could potentially be open to question but (and this is a big but) could actually grow and have the potential of something quite significant down the line if replicated.

Phew, that is quite a major sentence (in more ways than one) to try and comprehend so let’s try and break it down into manageable proportions.

Basically the issue is this. “Energy” drinks unlike sports drinks that contain water, sugar and salts are known to contain quite high levels of Caffeine and a substance known as Taurine that is aimed purely at increasing energy and/or “alertness”. Now Taurine, which is an Amino acid and is found in protein foods like fish or meat also has the same properties as Caffeine and hence as has been proved in the past can lead to raised blood pressure.

Now the initial results of this survey and study and I do need to re-emphasize at this particular point in time that it is indeed a small study, have provided us with the results that showed the following:

Basically researchers took 15 healthy young adults, who were volunteers and the group comprised of seven men and eight women whose average age was about 26 years and got them to stop consuming caffeine from other sources two days before also during the duration of the study.

The researchers took the volunteers and at the outset of the study recorded the blood pressure and heart rate and carried out an ECG (electrocardiogram) to assess the heart function of each volunteer.

Once the study had started researchers got the participants to drink two cans of an energy drink containing caffeine and taurine and then they initiated a series of blood pressure, heart rate and ECG tests after 30 minutes and then hourly from one to four hours later making five tests in all. This exercise was actually repeated every day for the next five days until the seventh day of the study when they repeated what they did on the first day in terms of measurements and tests.

The results did not make for pretty reading if you are interested in High Blood Pressure. The bottom line was that the results showed that within four hours of drinking the energy drink the maximum systolic blood pressure which is basically the first figure of the reading and actually the highest of the two figures when you carry out a blood pressure reading increased by 7.9% on the first day and rose to nearly 10% on the seventh.

The Heart Rates measured in the study increased by 7.8% on the first day and rose to 11% on the seventh.

Now taken in isolation it would be very easy to look at these figures and go “yes what’s the problem”. The problem is this, the increase in blood pressure and heart rate were not enough to cause the participants in the study to necessarily feel unwell because they were actually sitting in chairs watching films and not partaking of any active vigorous sport. Also if these changes were to take place in people who were suffering from either cardiovascular problems or blood pressure irregularities and then would be looking at something much more serious.

So where is this “sleeping time bomb” you keep mentioning I hear people say?

While the sleeping time bomb is this basically. The nature of high blood pressure is such that unless you happen to be undergoing a medical check up by and large it remains undiagnosed for long periods of time. It has been alleged that potentially anywhere between 10 and 15% of the population have high blood pressure irregularities and the majority of these are undiagnosed.

So what we have is 10 to 15% of the population consuming energy drinks (which are on the increase) and as a result causing fairly significant short-term increases in their blood pressure and being unaware of it.

This potentially, if these initial results are replicated on larger scale and there are no logical reasons why they shouldn’t be, could be a recipe for potential disaster.