A report released late last week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that the number of emergency room visits tied to energy drinks consumption have more than doubled from 2007 to 2011. That past four years were the same period when energy drinks surged in popularity in convenience stores, bars, and on college campuses, according to ABC News.
The findings were based from the responses of about 230 hospitals, representing 5 percent of emergency departments nationwide, each year. From 2007 to 2011, emergency room visits involving energy drinks rose from about 10,000 to over 20,000 — most of the patients were teens and young adults.
“We were really concerned to find that in four years the number of emergency department visits almost doubled, and these drinks are largely marketed to younger people,” said Al Woodward, a senior statistical analyst with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration who worked on the report.
Some emergency department doctors said they have observed an increase in the number of patients suffering from irregular heartbeats, anxiety and heart attacks who said they had recently consumed an energy drink. Even more troubling is that about 42 percent of ER visits considered in the survey for 2011 involved energy drinks in combination with alcohol or drugs, such as the stimulants Adderall or Ritalin.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was considering the findings and pressing for more details as it begins its own comprehensive review on the safety of energy drinks and related ingredients this spring.