This is how energy drinks affect your heart

On busy mornings, grabbing an energy drink can be a lot easier than waiting for a cup of coffee to brew. And they’re sometimes easier on your wallet than a Starbucks run. But you might want to re-think that Red Bull, because that energy drink’s affect on your heart health is actually pretty darn serious.

Recent research gathered by the Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that the difference between drinking a soda or cup of coffee and an energy drink is a substantial one.

And that makes sense because the jolt is known to be felt much sooner with the latter for a reason.

The study had one group of people drink a soda-like beverage mixed with carbonated water, cherry syrup, and lime juice, while the other downed an energy drink containing 320 mg of caffeine (which is four cups of coffee worth), 4 oz. of sugar, ginseng, and taurine. The groups then switched after about a week.

The short-term results were similar — blood pressure rose in both groups — but the levels of those who consumed the energy drinks stayed high for a much longer period.

Aside from that, the study showed that energy drinks have an adverse effect on how the heart beats altogether. They can affects a measure called the “QT interval.” If the QT interval is thrown off balance (i.e. “QTc prolongation”), it can increase the chance of having a fatal arrhythmia. ACK!

"Prolongation of the QT/QTc interval by more than 60 ms from baseline or a value >500 ms is a marker for life‐threatening arrhythmias," the study reads.

If that sounds scary, it’s because it really is. As reported by Seventeen, the study author — Emily Fletcher of the David Grant U.S.A.F. Medical Center in California — explained just how different caffeine and energy drinks really are.

"What the growing body of evidence is pointing to is that there are effects on the heart that are different than caffeine alone," she told Seventeen. "Consumers should be aware that drinking an energy drink is not the same as drinking coffee or soda."

The good news is you can still grab a quick bottled coffee or can of your fave soda instead. You’ll save the same amount of time without putting your heart at the same kind of risk. As the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Director Jaclyn London, R.D., tells Seventeen:

"Coffee and tea (in unsweetened form) are loaded with antioxidants and other phytonutrients, plant-based compounds linked with improved cognition and reduced risk of chronic disease."

You don’t have to tell us twice to high-tail it over to Starbucks. The more you know, guys! Caffeinate as you must, but stay educated. Your heart will thank you for it.

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