They are called 5-hour Energy and Red Bull, energy drinks are part of the growing multi-billion dollar industry that targets youngsters and teens and adults as a way to get through the day. Meanwhile, the industry that makes these caffeine heavy products goes largely unregulated as some reports of fatalities have been reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

cans-backgroundGerman researchers wanted to know what affect those so called energy drinks would have on a person a short while after they were consumed. So researchers from the University of Bonn took images of the hearts of 17 individuals. The study participants drank an energy drink and now researchers are issuing a warning about what they found.

Consuming a drink with 32 mg of caffeine and 400 mg of taurine caused the left ventricle to contract intensely, even as long as an hour after they were consumed. That is the chamber of the heart that moves blood around the body and the peaks could be seen through MRI imaging. The amount of caffeine is roughly three times the amount in a coffee or cola.

For those individuals with heart disease, the impact is unknown. Also not understood is what effect an energy drink has on athletic performance or daily activities or on mixing energy drinks with alcohol.

However, researchers believe anyone with an arrhythmia or an unstable, irregular heart beat should not consume energy drinks. They include the warning to children, though energy drinks are frequently marketed to teens. According to a published report in Pediatrics, there were nearly 5,000 overdoses in 2007, and half among teens who had consumed energy drinks.

These results echo a warning from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. From 2007 to 2011 emergency room visits doubled among those who had consumed energy drinks to almost 21,000. Not only were teens affected but patients in the age group from 26 to 39 were among those suffering adverse events.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against Monster Energy was filed after one death and the Food and Drug Administration reports it has received reports of 13 fatalities and 33 hospitalizations blamed on energy drinks.