Consuming just one energy drink can make a person’s blood vessels less efficient and increase the risk for a heart attack and stroke in 90 minutes, findings of a new study suggest.
John Higgins, from McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, and colleagues involved 22 healthy and non-smoking medical students to test the effect of a 24-ounce energy drink on endothelial cells, the cells lining the blood vessels.
They then tested the function of these cells before and after the participants consumed an energy drink, and again after 90 minutes.
The researchers in particular looked at artery flow-mediated dilation, an ultrasound measurement that indicates overall blood vessel health.
David Katz, director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center explained to HealthDay that endothelial function is generally a potent indicator of cardiovascular risk.
Higgins and colleagues observed that after 90 minutes, the internal diameter of blood vessels they tested was dramatically small on average compared before the participants consumed the energy drink.
The researchers think that this negative effect is associated with the ingredients found in an energy drink, which include caffeine, sugars, herbals, and the amino acid taurine.
The findings show another danger of consuming energy drinks, which include Monster and Red Bull, raising concerns for those who drink them for an energy boost.
Higgins said that many people use energy drinks when they exercise, a time when the arterial function needs to be at its top.
Exercise and sports require maximum blood flow so oxygen can get to the cells quickly. Unfortunately, energy drinks that reduce the diameter of blood vessels essentially restrict the flow of blood and oxygen, which can be dangerous.
“It’s more work for the heart and less oxygen supply for the heart. This could explain why there have been cases where kids have had a cardiac arrest after an energy drink,” Higgins said, according to HealthDay.
Higgins also said that some people chug energy drinks with the aim of getting the full effect in one shot. He warned that this too is dangerous.
“As energy drinks are becoming more and more popular, it is important to study the effects of these drinks on those who frequently drink them and better determine what, if any, is a safe consumption pattern,” Higgins and colleagues said in a statement published by the American Heart Association.
The new study will be presented at the meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago on Nov. 12.