Energy drinks significantly prolong the QT/QTc interval and raise systolic blood pressure (SBP), according to a review presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

Sachin A. Shah, PharmD, from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., and colleagues conducted a literature review of studies evaluating the impact of an energy drink on the QT/QTc interval or SBP. Seven studies were included in the analysis, with 93 subjects evaluated for QT/QTc interval and 132 for SBP.

The researchers found that QT/QTc interval was prolonged significantly by 10.0 msec and SBP increased significantly by 3.5 mm Hg, compared to baseline, following energy drink consumption. The effect was sustained in subgroup and sensitivity analyses. There was no significant relationship to diastolic BP or heart rate.

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“The correlation between energy drinks and increased systolic blood pressure is convincing and concerning, and more studies are needed to assess the impact on the heart rhythm,” Dr. Shah said in a press release. “Patients with high blood pressures or long QT syndrome should use caution and judgment before consuming an energy drink. Since energy drinks also contain caffeine, people who do not normally drink much caffeine might have an exaggerated increase in blood pressure.”