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Heart researcher: Energy drinks can be fatal to some people


Young people with Long QT syndrome should not consume energy drinks
The consumption of energy drinks is associated with negative health effects because, for example, this type of beverage generally contains far too much sugar. Researchers have now found that one or two energy drinks are enough to be life-threatening for some young people (without a known history of heart disease).

The researchers at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney found out that one or two energy drinks can be life-threatening for certain young people with the so-called Long-QT syndrome. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "International Journal of Cardiology".

Energy drinks can be fatal to people with Long QT syndrome
People with the genetic cardiac arrhythmia called Long QT Syndrome are at increased risk of significant heart problems after consuming energy drinks. In particularly severe cases, even death can occur, warn medical doctors.

What is long QT syndrome?
Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a rare but life-threatening illness. It can lead to sudden cardiac death in people with a healthy heart. The disease can either be inherited or arise, for example, as a result of an undesirable drug effect. About one in 2,000 people are affected by Long QT syndrome, the experts explain. Most sufferers are unaware of their condition until they are diagnosed by an EKG. In some patients with Long QT syndrome, the first symptom could also be sudden cardiac death.

Doctors examine 24 subjects with Long QT syndrome
The current study was carried out over a period of two years. 24 people with Long QT syndrome were involved. The participants were between the ages of 16 and 50. The subjects received either energy drinks or so-called control drinks over a period of 90 minutes. During this time, the test subjects were continuously monitored and regular ECG examinations and blood tests were carried out.

Participants' blood pressure rose by more than ten percent
The subjects experienced a significant increase in blood pressure of more than ten percent after consuming the energy drink. This effect could not be observed in the control group. In some patients, dangerous changes in the values ​​on the ECG were then detected, the doctors say. 12.5 percent of the participants showed a significant extension of the QT interval of 50 milliseconds or more. The QT duration is a measure of the evaluation of the EKG.

Many teenagers consume four or more energy drinks in one evening
For ethical reasons, patients in this study could only be given small doses of energy drinks. But it is quite realistic that young people consume four or more mixes of energy drinks with alcohol in the evening. Such mixed drinks are particularly widespread among young people, the authors explain.

The cause is still unknown
So far it remains unclear whether a specific component in energy drinks causes changes in the ECG or whether a combination of the components is responsible for this, explains Professor Chris Semsarian from the University of Sydney.

Many people don't know about their Long QT syndrome
Most people don't even know that they have inherited Long QT syndrome. That's why people need to be warned about consuming the stimulant drinks, the expert adds.

Patients acted as their own controls
Although the study was only small, it was still meaningful. The patients acted as their own control persons, they consumed both energy drinks and control drinks, the researchers explain. This happened in various examinations, with at least a week in between. During this period, the drink consumed could be washed out again, explains Professor Semsarian. (as)

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