Popular non-alcoholic drink associated with blood clot formation within ‘1 hour’ of intake

British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots

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Blood clots are not intrinsically bad. In fact, they are beneficial when they form in response to an injury or a cut, because they stem bleeding. However, when blood clots form inside your veins without good reason, they can be a portent of serious complications. Poor dietary decisions can promote the formation of the latter type.

Worryingly, energy drink consumption may kickstart the mechanisms that lead to the formation of blood clots.

Energy drink consumption in the United States has more than doubled over the last decade, researchers in a study published in the Journal of Surgical Research.

They noted that intake of the popular beverage has been implicated in a host of cardiovascular complications, such as cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, and even “sudden cardiac death”.

In light of this, the researchers hypothesised that energy drink consumption may increase the risk of adverse cardiovascular events by increasing platelet aggregation, thereby resulting in an increased risk of thrombosis (blood clot in a vein).

Platelets are tiny blood cells. If your platelet count is too high, blood clots can form in your blood vessels.

To investigate their hypothesis, the researchers recruited thirty-two healthy volunteers aged 18-40 years.

They were given a 16 oz of bottled water or a standardised, sugar-free energy drink on two separate occasions, one week apart.

Beverages were consumed after an overnight fast over a 30-minute period.

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Coagulation (clotting) parameters and platelet function were measured before and 60 minutes after consumption.

What did the researchers find out?

No statistically significant differences in coagulation were detected.

However, compared to water controls, energy drink consumption resulted in a significant increase in platelet aggregation.

This “increased platelet activity” occurred within “one hour of consumption”, the researchers wrote.

They concluded: “Although larger clinical studies are needed to further address the safety and health concerns of these drinks, the increased platelet response may provide a mechanism by which energy drinks increase the risk of adverse cardiovascular events.”

General tips to reduce your risk

Leading a heart-healthy lifestyle offers the greatest buffer against heart complications.

One of the most robust preventative measures is to keep active – the NHS says to take regular walks.

“Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration – you’re more likely to get a clot if you’re dehydrated,” advises the charity.

You should also:

  • Try to lose weight if you’re overweight
  • Wear flight stockings or flight socks to improve your blood flow on long flights – a pharmacist can advise you about this
  • Avoid drinking lots of alcohol.

Symptoms to spot

Symptoms of a blood clot include:

  • Throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness and warmth in a leg or arm
  • Sudden breathlessness, sharp chest pain (may be worse when you breathe in) and a cough or coughing up blood.

Blood clots can be life threatening if not treated quickly.

“111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one,” adds the NHS.

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