Energy Drinks Related to Increased ER Visits?

A recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration asserts that emergency rooms across the country are treating increasing numbers of patients who experience complications from consuming energy drinks. The study refers to the drinks as a “rising public health problem,” adding that 20,000 ER visits in 2011 were linked to the drinks.

Energy drinks can increase blood pressure and heart rates—and cardiologists interviewed for the study stated that ER patients “frequently complain of heart racing, heart skipping, and panic-attack like symptoms.”

The symptoms, which have resulted in a doubling of energy drink-related ER visits in just four years, have even caused Chicago to consider banning energy drink sales to individuals under the age of 21.In a response by the American Beverage Association, it is noted that the study did not “share information about the overall health of those who may have consumed energy drinks.”

To dive further into the topic, HMS attempted to confirm the study’s results by looking at data collected in ERs across the country. We found that there was not much evidence in the data that showed a direct correlation between energy drinks and ER visits.

However, the very nature of the symptoms described—racing heart, heart skipping—means that the chief complaints may not stand out in an analysis as being directly related to energy drinks.

This analysis gets to the heart of the “fun” part of data collection—sifting through data to find correlations that can better serve the public’s health. For more information on the study, visit the HLN website.