Energy drinks should come with a health warning. The drinks-often drunk in night clubs or during exercise-have been responsible for eight deaths and 257 cases of cardiovascular, psychiatric or neurological adverse reactions in France alone over the past two years.
The deaths were caused by heart disturbances after the drinks caused sudden heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmia), angina or heart attack.
The drinks contain caffeine equivalent to two espressos, taurine and glucuronolactone, an artificial stimulant.
The drinks were approved for general public consumption in France in 2008, although they were monitored by health agencies for adverse reactions.
Prof Milou-Daniel Drici from Anses, the French food safety agency, said that 'caffeine syndrome' was the most common problem, which was associated with a sudden fast heart rate (tachycardia), tremor, anxiety and headache.
People who already have a heart condition should stay away from the drinks, he advises, and even healthy people should be made aware that the drinks have "absolutely no place during or after physical exercise".
Prof Drici fears the true picture could be much worse, as people don't even associate energy drinks with a heart problem they might be experiencing, and so don't bother to mention it to the doctor.
(Source: The European Society of Cardiology 2014 Congress, August 31, 2014)