‘Energy’ drinks linked to rise in heart problems

The Irish Heart Foundation has repeated its call for a tax on caffeine-filled “energy” drinks after a study warned they can cause heart problems and, potentially, death.

‘Energy’ drinks linked to rise in heart problems

A major US cardiology study shows some of the most widely used energy drinks on the market in Ireland can have a devastating impact on a persons’ health.

According to the American Heart Association research, which is based on the results of seven separate studies, the powerful effect of the drinks risks disturbing the heart’s rhythm and increasing blood pressure.

The study said using the drinks will extend the heart rhythm’s QT interval, which can lead to irregular heartbeats and risks heart failure.

The finding was made after examining the impact the drinks had on 100 people who drank between one and three cans of unnamed energy drinks.

These individuals saw a 10 millisecond increase in their QT interval, with general medical advice warning that any change approaching 30 milliseconds from their baseline risks “life-threatening irregular heartbeats”.

“The finding that energy drinks could prolong the QT, in light of the reports of sudden cardiac death, warrants further investigation,” the US report warned.

Maureen Mulvihill, the Irish Heart Foundation’s health promotion manager, said a tax on the popular products may be needed to safeguard peoples’ health.

“These sorts of drinks are helpful to elite athletes at the peak of their fitness and at the extreme of their effort,” said Ms Mulvihill.

“Diet and obesity must be tackled on many fronts... To help reduce consumption and reduce obesity, we are calling for a tax on such drinks to shift consumption to healthier choices.”

A spokeswoman for Red Bull, one of the most popular energy drinks in Ireland, said there is no proof the products pose a risk to health.

“Red Bull is available in more than 165 countries because health authorities across the world have concluded it is safe.

“More than 5 billion cans were consumed last year and about 35 billion cans since Red Bull was created more than 25 years ago.”

The tax call comes just months after the US Food and Drug Administration opened an investigation into five deaths between 2009 and 2012 that may have been linked to the Monster energy drink.

The product, which is available in Ireland, was at the centre of claims it contributed to the death of a 14-year-old girl with a heart condition from Maryland, US, who lost her life after drinking two cans in a 24-hour period.

Heavy cost

*180,000 people are dying because of long-term sugary drink usage worldwide every year.

*The figure, calculated by a major Harvard study, is the equivalent of one person every three minutes.

*It includes 133,000 diabetes, 44,000 heart disease and 6,000 cancer fatalities per 12 months.

*Irish people consume an average of 83 litres of sugary drinks per year.

*The Irish Heart Foundation said imposing a 10% tax is a “no brainer”.

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