Energy drinks are often the go-to for people looking to combat fatigue, however, new research suggests that these drinks may be linked to serious conditions.

The drinks often contain high amounts of sugar and caffeine. Doctors have warned that it can cause a life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment.

Energy drinks contain between 80mg and 300mg of caffeine per drink, compared to 100mg found in a cup of coffee.

Many also contain other additives, such as taurine and guarana, which are thought to alter heart rate, blood pressure, and other heart functions.

The popular drinks can disrupt the heart’s electrical system, increasing the risk of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) that can lead to serious health consequences, such as sudden cardiac arrest – when the heart stops beating.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the US looked at the medical records of 144 patients who survived heart attacks after emergency treatment. The results revealed that seven of those aged between 20 and 42 had consumed an energy drink shortly before a life-threatening event, six required electroconvulsive therapy and one required manual stimulation.

Doctors Have Advised Caution As Energy Drinks Can Cause Life-Threatening Conditions In Patients With Hereditary Heart Disease.
Doctors have advised caution as energy drinks can cause life-threatening conditions in patients with hereditary heart disease. (PA archive)

“Critics may say these findings are ‘coincidental associations,'” wrote Peter Schwartz of the Center for Cardiac Arrhythmias of Genetic Origin and Laboratory of Cardiovascular Genetics in Milan, Italy.

“We, as well as the Mayo Clinic team, know that energy drinks can cause life-threatening heart attacks and that there is no clear and definitive evidence that more information is needed, but we would be remiss if we didn’t sound the alarm,” he said.

The two main stimulants in fizzy energy drinks are caffeine and sugar, so what exactly is that doing to our bodies?

“Caffeine increases heart rate, increases concentration, keeps people awake for longer and keeps them awake,” explains Dr Belinda Griffiths of the Fleet Street Clinic.

“Caffeine may be good for adults. Several studies suggest that two or more cups of coffee a day may be beneficial for heart disease, depending on the amount of caffeine in each drink.”

However, refined sugar – especially in the amounts found in energy drinks – is not healthy at all.

“We can manage happily without it, we get enough sugar from everything we eat and drink,” Griffiths said.

“It raises blood glucose, gives a little burst of energy and then a little drop, which can affect your mood, and then make you feel hungry. [meaning] You may want to eat more.

Researchers Warn Energy Drink Lovers To Cut Down On Caffeinated Drinks (Alarm/Pa).
Researchers warn energy drink lovers to cut down on caffeinated drinks (alarm/PA).

London-based nutritionist Benny Robinson, founder of HealthSpace, says anyone looking to wean themselves off energy drinks should consider switching to still water.

The nutritionist said: “I don’t think we want to rely on energy drinks for energy, I encourage my clients to drink pure water – that’s what gives us energy.

“Consuming large amounts of energy drinks with caffeine, artificial flavors and sweeteners can affect our energy and gut levels.

“If you like energy drinks every now and then, it won’t do any harm, but there are better options that stay away from sugar and caffeine.”

She recommends adding a squeeze of lemon, lime, pumpkin or mint to still or boiling water to give it extra flavor.