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If you like to start your day with an energy drink, we have some bad news: they’re more dangerous for your heart than caffeine alone.

A new study has found that energy drinks can cause potentially harmful changes in heart function and blood pressure.

Emily Fletcher and her team of researchers at David Grant Medical Center in California recruited 18 healthy volunteers aged 40 and under.

They either drank two cans of energy drink or a caffeinated control drink containing caffeine, lime juice and cherry syrup in carbonated water. Both drinks contained the same amount of caffeine, the average amount of caffeine Americans consume per day.

After six days, the participants swapped drinks.

Following their drinks, they were given an electrocardiogram, which traces the heart’s electrical activity, and their blood pressure was measured at intervals over the next 24 hours. While blood pressure initially increased in both groups, it was “significantly higher” for six hours after drinking the energy drinks.

Those who drank the energy drinks also had higher QT intervals after two hours. This measures the time interval between heartbeats, if these are too long it can cause potentially life-threatening arrhythmia:

Picture:Picture: Journal of the American Heart Association

While small doses of caffeine alone are considered safe, energy drinks also include varying “energy blends,” the paper states. There has also been in increase in the number of visit to A&E associated with energy drink consumption, causing abnormal heart rhythms and other problems.

The researchers conclude that those with certain heart condition might want to consider their intake of energy drinks, and that more research needs to be done.

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