Monday, August 27, 2012

Energy drinks improve heart function

Energy drinks have become increasingly popular in the last decade. They promise a quick boost of energy and are therefore used a lot by those of us not getting enough sleep, for example. However, everything comes at a price, which in the case of energy drinks means that such temporary boosts are not good for your health. This is common knowledge, but a recent study from the University of Siena points in a different direction. Scientists argue that energy drinks actually improve your heart function.

In order to give you a boost, most energy drinks contain caffeine and its sibling taurine. The effects of caffeine are well-known among coffee drinkers, but on a biological level it increases your blood pressure, something that is not quite beneficial. Taurine, on the other hand, is able to stimulate the release of calcium from intracellular storage. Because calcium is used to drive muscle contraction, it is necessary to keep the heart pumping, for example.
The effects of calcium on the heart. A calcium channel is stimulated  (by calcium of course) leading to the release of more calcium from storage (sarcoplasmic reticulum) inside the cell. This leads to muscle contraction.
Energy drink study
In order to assess the overall effect of energy drinks on heart function, the scientists from the University of Siena set up an experiment with 35 participants, who were required to consume drinks containing caffeine and taurine. When performing measurements, the researchers noted a light increase, a mere 6 percent, in blood pressure, but no significant change in heart rate. When assessing other factors that tell us something about heart function, the scientists found that the amount of blood ejected from the heart with each 'push' had increased after consuming an energy drink.

More heart parameters were measured, and taken together it seems that energy drink consumption leads to increased ability of the heart to contract, therefore increasing its capabilities to push blood out of the heart. Having a strong heart capable of powerful ejections is beneficial, because a decrease may lead to a lack of blood, and therefore nutrients and oxygen, delivered to organs. Therefore, it seems that the effects of energy drinks found by the University of Siena are beneficial. Of course, this study cannot tell us anything conclusive about the long term effects, but it is an interesting find that needs to be expanded on.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your very informative and impartial post! Well, it is good to know that energy drinks can actually improve the heart's function based on the review provided!