In a recent randomized study, researchers determined patients with familial long QT syndrome are susceptible to an increase in symptoms ranging from rapid and irregular heart rate to sudden death just from drinking heavily caffeinated energy drinks.
As reported in the International Journal of Cardiology, researchers discovered the patients with FLQT syndrome responded to caffeinated energy drinks with increased blood pressure levels and that some even had more prolonged QT intervals, which is known to lead to dangerous arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, and torsades de pointes.
“Some individual patients may be at a higher risk, therefore we suggest caution in allowing the consumption of energy drinks in patients with FLQT syndrome.” says senior author Christopher Semsarian.
How Prevalent is Familial Long QT Syndrome?
Around one out of every 2000 people have FLQT syndrome, an inherited form of structural heart disease that is hallmarked by a delayed depolarization or a prolonged amount of time taken to recharge in between the normal electrical impulses in the heart. Around 17 genes have been discovered to be related to FLQT syndrome and hundreds of mutations within these genes have been identified. Mutations in three of these genes account for about 75 percent of long QT syndrome cases. Mutations in the other 14 minor genes contribute less than 5 percent of long QT syndrome cases. About 20 percent of people who definitely have long QT syndrome have a negative genetic test result.
Teens Especially at Risk
Often FLQT is not diagnosed until the patient exhibits symptoms, many younger patients are at risk. This new study may shed light on the incidence of sudden cardiac death in previously healthy high school and college-aged athletes. Have these teens unknowingly put themselves at risk by drinking highly-caffeinated energy drinks?
Banning Sale of Energy Drinks
The sale and consumption of energy drinks for minors under the age of 16 are being prohibited in many countries, including the UK. A recent review of worldwide data on energy drinks has linked them to headaches, stomach ailments, and sleep problems. In the US, emergency department visits associated with their consumption tripled between 2007 and 2016. They are also associated with behaviors like binge drinking and drug use, according to data cited in a report released by the Food Research Collaboration.
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