Drinking energy drinks, especially regularly or in large volumes, can increase the risk of high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and other heart disease risk factors. These risk factors increase the risk of a heart attack, but energy drinks alone are unlikely to cause a heart attack without other significant risk factors.

Energy drinks are typically very high in sugar, the excess consumption of which is a risk factor for heart disease. These drinks also contain large volumes of caffeine and poorly studied ingredients such as ginseng and guarana. Together, these ingredients may damage the heart, especially over time.

There is no evidence that a single energy drink, or even a few energy drinks, can trigger a heart attack in a person without any health issues. But prolonged use of energy drinks in large quantities, especially in those with underlying risk factors, such as diabetes, could contribute to heart attacks and other types of heart disease, such as heart failure.

This article will explain the connection between energy drinks and heart attacks. It will also detail the symptoms to look out for with a heart attack and maintaining safety when consuming drinks.

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There is no evidence that energy drinks can suddenly trigger heart attacks in people without health issues. Instead, energy drink consumption is a risk factor for heart disease and possibly for medical conditions, such as diabetes, that increase the risk of heart disease.

High doses of caffeine correlate with a higher risk of certain heart health issues. The high sugar content of energy drinks can eventually damage the heart and blood vessels if a person consumes an excessive amount over time.

A case report describes a 21-year-old man with a diagnosis of heart failure likely due to consuming 4 energy drinks per day for 2 years.

A 2020 study found that sugar-sweetened beverages, including energy drinks, increase the risk of high blood pressure in young people. High blood pressure is a significant heart disease and heart attack risk factor.

Therefore, energy drink consumption may interact with other risk factors and steadily raise the risk of heart disease and heart attack. This is similar to other lifestyle choices, such as smoking or eating a diet high in sugar or fat.

Learn more about how energy drinks affect the heart.

The main symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • chest pain that affects the center or left side of the chest and that causes more than just a fleeting ache or pain
  • pain that radiates to the jaw or shoulder
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling weak or faint
  • lightheadedness
  • extreme unusual fatigue, especially in women
  • nausea, especially in women
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Learn more about recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack.

According to a 2017 literature review, energy drinks may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation. A 2022 paper reports that atrial fibrillation is the leading cause of cardiac arrest and stroke.

A 2019 paper links energy drinks to QTc prolongation. This is an atypical change in the rhythm of the heart that can cause atrial fibrillation. QTc prolongation is also a risk factor for other arrhythmias, including potentially fatal arrhythmias in the heart’s ventricles.

Learn more about atrial fibrillation.

One of the dangers of energy drinks can be that some of their ingredients have not undergone thorough testing, so health experts do not fully understand them. Researchers do not know if the ingredients may have toxic effects or how they may affect the heart.

Some of the ways energy drinks affect the heart include:

  • Blood pressure: Several studies suggest that sweetened beverages, in general, and energy drinks, in particular, may increase blood pressure. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart attacks and other types of heart disease.
  • Electrical issues: Energy drink consumption may disrupt the heart’s electrical system. This can increase the risk of heart arrhythmias, which are a risk factor for strokes and cardiac arrest.
  • Heart failure: At least one case report has linked excessive energy drink consumption to heart failure.
  • Sugar consumption: Excess sugar consumption can cause harmful weight gain and potentially increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Energy drinks are almost always very high in sugar.

Researchers have not determined the long-term outlook with energy drink consumption or a specific risk these drinks pose.

A person’s risk varies depending on other heart disease risk factors. However, the risk of heart disease may increase with long-term and frequent energy drink consumption.

Research has not established a safe consumption level for energy drinks, and there is no evidence that they offer any specific health benefits. For this reason, the safest option is not to drink them.

People who wish to drink energy drinks need to treat them like other potentially harmful cardiovascular risk factors, such as those that sugary snacks and food high in saturated fat pose. Health experts recommend they drink them only infrequently and adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and plenty of physical activity.

Learn more about the benefits of a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Energy drinks, like many other sweetened foods, can damage the heart and blood vessels over time. It is unlikely that a single energy drink would suddenly trigger a heart attack. However, they can exacerbate other heart disease risk factors, especially heart arrhythmias.

Regular medical care, managing chronic health conditions, and a heart-healthy lifestyle can help mitigate the risk. However, the safest option is to avoid energy drinks.