16/08/2012 13:30 BST | Updated 16/08/2012 13:31 BST

Energy Drinks Mixed With Alcohol Could Increase Risk Of Heart Problems, Study Suggests

A massive handbag, face-swamping sunglasses and a can of sugar-free redbull have become the staple requirements of any young wannabe out on the town in recent years.

But as energy drinks have become increasingly popular, so too has mixing and drinking them with alcohol -- and that could be causing health problems, suggests a new study.


According to an Australian study that compared the outcomes of alcohol/energy drinks with alcohol-only drinks, those who drink the latter are more like to experience heart-related health problems.

"Alcohol-energy drink consumers were less likely to experience several psychological and physiological sedation side-effects, such as speech and walking difficulties, nausea, slurred speech, confusion, and exhaustion, when drinking alcohol/energy drinks compared to alcohol," said study author Amy Peacock from the University of Tasmania, in a statement.

"However, they also had a greater chance in alcohol/energy drink sessions of experiencing several side-effects related to over-stimulation, including heart palpitations, increased speech speed, sleeping difficulties, agitation and tremors, jolt and crash episodes, and irritability and tension."

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Energy drinks have grown in popularity since being linked with stars such as Demi Moore, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

Peacock and her colleagues collected data from 403 Australians (159 males, 244 females), 18 to 35 years of age, who completed a 10- to 30-minute online survey between May and June 2011.

All participants had consumed alcohol/energy and alcohol-only drinks in the preceding six months, and retrospectively responded to questions regarding the occurrence of 17 physiological and 21 mood states as well as 26 risk behaviors in drinking sessions during the preceding six months when they had consumed alcohol/energy drinks versus alcohol only.

"The reported side-effects of energy drink/alcohol consumption are similar to those reported by consumers of caffeine," said Andrea Carr, associate lecturer in psychology at the University of Tasmania, in a statement.

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"To avoid these, consumers of energy drinks alone or combined with alcohol should be aware of the caffeine content of their drinks and any additional caffeine that they may have consumed that will contribute to an exacerbation of these effects."

In addition, more than half of those surveyed reported exceeding the Australian national guidelines for alcohol intake.

"This finding raises serious concern regarding the general alcohol consumption habits of alcohol/energy drink consumers," said Peacock, in a statement.