New research shows that young people with no known history of heart disease are at risk of a fatal cardiac arrest after just one energy drink.

The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital study found patients with a disorder called Long QT Syndrome had a significant increase in their blood pressure after drinking a single can of Red Bull. Long QT Syndrome is a genetic heart disorder that affects about one in 2000 Australians. Although it’s relatively common, many people are not aware they have it.

“The study found energy drinks can cause two main things – alter the blood pressure and also alter the rhythm of the heart”, said cardiologist Dr Chris Semsarian, one of the authors of the study.

In the study, people with Long QT Syndrome were given Red Bull. One in eight experienced a faster heart rate and the rhythm became more erratic.

“It changes the normal rhythm of the heart to a rhythm that can lead to bad problems – it didn’t actually cause the problems themselves.”;

In the United States, a class action lawsuit is being brought against the energy drink company Monster on behalf of people who have suffered "serious, permanent and life-altering injuries as a result of regular consumption," according to the prosecuting law firm.

The medical study made public today was the first in the world to link energy drinks to heart attacks in people with Long QT Syndrome. Not all people with Long QT Syndrome who took part in the study showed a risk of dangerous heart rhythms – in fact, only one in eight showed dangerous changes. That's a relatively low proportion – one in eight of a syndrome that affects one in 2000 – but you may be in the risk group without knowing.

Courtesy: WHO

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