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Q: Are Energy Drinks Bad for the Heart?á I use them a lot because I work the night shift, but I also have high blood pressure.áá Thanks Doc!á NEEDZs Dr. Dave: NEEDZs, There has been a recent surge in the consumption of so-called energy drinks. Some have grown in popularity so much as to become favorites at food establishments and bars across the nation. They makers of these drinks promise heightened alertness and stamina for the sleep-deprived, the over-worked and the reveler alike. á The effect of these beverages is not magical, regardless of popular marketing.á Many of the effects on your level of arousal are due to the caffeine.á Most of these drinks have high levels of caffeine—as well as sugar. á Caffeine can mimic the hormone, adrenalin, which can cause increased heart rate, palpitations, higher blood pressure and, overall, make the heart work harder.á This can be detrimental to the heart and blood vessels if not adequately controlled.á High doses of caffeine should definitely be avoided in people with heart problems, high blood pressure or heart rhythm disturbances. It is recommended that the total caffeine dose stay 300-400 mg or less for the day (that includes other things like chocolate, coffee, tea etc).á One Red Bull, for example, does not give excessive total amounts of caffeine. Compare these beverages total caffeine content [These estimates are taken from MayoClinic.com]: Dunkin’ Donuts, coffee, (16 oz)- 143-206mg caffeine Starbucks Espresso, (1 oz) 58-75mg caffeine Generic brewed, (8 oz) 95-200mg caffeine Coca-Cola Zero 35mg caffeine Dr Pepper, regular or diet 42-44mg caffeine Mountain Dew, regular or diet 54mg caffeine Red Bull, (8.3 oz) 76mg caffeine Monster Energy, (16 oz) 160mg caffeine In the grand scheme of things, many other beverages have a higher total amount of caffeine, but energy drinks contain concentrated caffeine.á Please review this with you doctor.á If you are having difficulty bringing your blood pressure down to the goal set by your doctor, you may have to find an alternative to caffeine. Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender Dave Montgomery, MD, PhD is Senior Fellow in Cardiology at Northwestern University and a sought after Speaker and Health Coach.á http://davemontgomerymd.com

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