Dar es Salaam. Tanzania will investigate health risks associated with the consumption of energy drinks after a new study reported “lethal effects” of the beverages on consumers, particularly the risk of a heart attack.
Titled Acute Myocardial Infarction Following the Consumption of Energy Drink in a 28-Year-Old Male: A Case Report, the study was published on April 23, 2023, in SAGE, an international publishing company.
The study was carried out by Peter Kisenge, Pedro Pallangyo, and Smita Bhalia, all from the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI), Tanzania’s national specialised and university teaching hospital offering cardiovascular care, based in Dar es Salaam.
Researchers recounted a story of a 28-year-old man of African origin who was presented to the emergency department with an eight-hour history of chest pain.
The man’s symptoms started four hours after consuming five cans (1250 cc) of an energy drink whose principal ingredients are caffeine, taurine, sugar, and glucuronolactone.
Researchers reported that the man’s medical and surgical history was unremarkable, and had no apparent cardiovascular risk factor. Physical examination also was unremarkable.
But tests done on the man’s heart showed features of anterolateral myocardial infarction (STEMI), a type of heart attack that mainly affects the heart’s lower chambers.
“In conclusion, sudden onset of chest pain following energy drink consumption should raise an index of suspicion for [the] acute coronary syndrome,” the researchers concluded.
Acute coronary syndrome, or ACS, is a term used to describe a range of conditions associated with sudden, reduced blood flow to the heart, including a heart attack.
According to the US National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), ACS is responsible for one-third of total deaths in people older than 35 in the North American nation.
“With the preponderance of data suggesting [an] increased incidence of energy drink–associated coronary events, it is prudent to advocate a limited consumption of such beverages,” the researchers added in their study.
The study’s findings went viral in Tanzania over the weekend, prompting Minister of Health Ummy Mwalimu to make a statement about them.
“I have directed [the] National Institute for Medical Research [NIMR] to conduct further studies on the consumption of energy drinks,” Mwalimu, who doubles as Tanga Urban MP (Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM), said in a Twitter statement.
“[NIMR] will give us scientific evidence about the respective issue, and their study will inform our actions as the government,” Mwalimu added.
Energy drinks are immensely popular in Tanzania, with some brands selling only at Sh500, with Red Bull considered the most popular energy drink in the country.
Other brands include Monster Energy, Azam Energy, Mo Energy, Jembe Energy, Rockstar, and Supa Commando, to name but a few.
According to a study by the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA), now Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA, cited in Food Business Africa, energy drink consumption in Tanzania has increased by over 50 per cent in the past decade.
The study found that most energy drinks consumers in Tanzania are young men between 18 and 35.
It also found that energy drink consumption is more common among urban residents than rural residents.
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The energy drinks market in Tanzania is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1 per cent over the analysis period of 2021 to 2027, according to data and analytics company StrategyHelix, cited by Food Business Africa.
In their study, researchers from JKCI noted that their report aims at raising the community’s awareness regarding the potentially lethal effects of energy drinks.
They also seek to “sensitise the general public to cautious consumption” of such beverages.
The authors also hope their report will “enlighten clinicians about the notable connection between energy drinks and cardiovascular health to consider such aetiology in the differential diagnosis, particularly among young adults with chest pain.”