The Dangers of Energy Drinks

Energy drinks may boost blood pressure, stress hormone responses in young adults

(RxWiki News) How many energy drinks can young adults safely drink per day? The answer may surprise you.

A new study found that drinking as little as one 16-ounce energy drink may significantly increase blood pressure and stress hormone responses. According to the authors of this study, these changes could potentially predispose otherwise healthy young adults to increased cardiovascular risk.

For this study, a team of researchers led by Anna Svatikova, MD, PhD, of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at the Mayo Clinic, looked at 25 young adults with no known cardiovascular risk factors.

Each participant was asked to drink either one 16-ounce can of a commercially available energy drink, such as Rockstar, or a placebo drink within five minutes and in random order on two separate days.

Dr. Svatikova and team then measured participants' blood pressure and norepinephrine levels 30 minutes after consumption. Norepinephrine is considered a "fight or flight" chemical because it increases blood pressure and the heart's ability to contract. It also controls heart rate and breathing in response to perceived stress.

After consuming the energy drink, these researchers found a 6.2 percent increase in blood pressure and a 73.6 percent increase in norepinephrine levels on average. By comparison, blood pressure increased 3.1 percent and norepinephrine levels increased 30.9 percent after placebo.

This study was presented Nov. 8 at the 2015 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

The Mayo Foundation and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences funded this research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
November 6, 2015