Contrary to popular belief, drinking energy drinks containing caffeine and taurine may actually improve health and boost heart function in healthy people, a new study reveals.
"With energy drinks containing both caffeine and taurine concerns have been raised of adverse effects on the heart. While caffeine increases blood pressure, studies suggest that taurine may stimulate the release of calcium from the sarcoplasmic reticulum," Dr. Matteo Cameli, a researcher at the University of Siena in Italy and co- author of the study, said in a statement today.
Italian researchers measured the blood pressure, heart rate and left and right ventricular function of 35 healthy participants with an average age of 25, and found that the function in the left and right ventricles that pump blood to the body increased an hour after drinking an energy drink.
Researchers presenting at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Munich, Germany also found that consuming energy drinks increase diastolic blood pressure by 6 percent, but not heart rate and systolic blood pressure.
Cameli said that the improvement in heart function may be caused by taurine, an amino acid in many energy drinks that is known to stimulate calcium production in muscle.
"Our study was performed in young healthy individuals at rest. Future studies need to focus on whether such benefits persist after long term consumption of energy drinks, and what the effects are of consuming these drinks during physical activity," Cameli said.
"It will also be important to determine which of the effects are induced in patients with cardiac disease to further our understanding of the potential benefits or risks of energy drink consumption," he added.
However other experts warn that too much caffeine can make people sweat and experience heart palpitations.
"People are showing up in the emergency room and doctor's office after having these drinks and not feeling well," said W. Douglas Weaver, former president of the American College of Cardiology, according to Bloomberg. "Now we can see some of the physiological effects."