SINGAPORE: In a new study published on June 5, researchers show the possible link between consuming energy drinks and cardiac arrest.

Its full findings may be found in the journal Heart Rhythm article titled Sudden cardiac arrest occurring in temporal proximity to consumption of energy drinks.

The study showed how energy drinks containing high levels of caffeine and other stimulants may be dangerous for people who already have genetic heart diseases.

“Overall, 5 per cent of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) survivors experienced SCA in proximity to consuming an energy drink. Although larger cohort studies are needed to elucidate the incidence/prevalence and quantify its precise risk, it seems prudent to sound an early warning on this potential risk,” the study reads.

And although the study was conducted at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, it is still relevant to Singapore, where the consumption of energy drinks is expected to grow by nearly four per cent yearly from 2024 to 2028.

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In Singapore, energy drinks are fairly popular among individuals with a high annual household income, especially younger ones.

Many consumers of energy drinks are likely to be video gamers, and advertisements for these kinds of drinks are often found during video games. Common energy drinks in Singapore are Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar.

The Mayo Clinic study looked into 144 survivors of sudden cardiac arrest, seven of whom had one or more energy drinks before falling ill.

While the study does not necessarily show that energy drinks are directly responsible for cardiac arrest, the researchers are warning individuals to drink moderate amounts, particularly those who have a family history of heart problems.

“Although the relative risk is small and the absolute risk of sudden death after consuming an energy drink is even smaller, patients with a known sudden death predisposing genetic heart disease should weigh the risks and benefits of consuming such drinks in the balance,” said Michael J. Ackerman, the lead investigator of the study.

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“While there seemed to be a temporal relationship between energy drink consumption and the seven patients’ sudden cardiac arrest event, a myriad of potential ‘agitators’ that could have also contributed to a genetic heart disease-associated arrhythmia occurred, like sleep deprivation, dehydration, dieting or extreme fasting, concomitant use of QT-prolonging drugs, or the postpartum period,” he added.

Energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine. While an eight-ounce cup of coffee typically has 94.8 mg of caffeine, a large Red Bull can have 147.6 mg; Rockstar and Monster have 160 mg of caffeine in their 500 mL cans.

These, however, are on the low end when it comes to caffeine content. Though not commonly consumed in Singapore, Celsius Heat, Bang, G Fuel, and Rockstar Xdurance all contain 300 mg of caffeine per serving. /TISG

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