New Study Confirms Energy Drinks Are Bad for Your Heart

November 9th 2015

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that energy drinks are bad for your heart. After drinking a 16-ounce can of Rockstar, study participants experienced increased heart rate and blood pressure, and researchers say that energy drink enthusiasts are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

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Twenty-five healthy adults were given Rockstar energy drinks and asked to drink them within five minutes. On a separate day, they were also given placebos that tasted like Rockstar but didn't have the caffeine or other stimulants included in the commercially-available option. For someone who regularly consumes energy drinks, the results were concerning.

The researchers wrote:

"Consumption of the energy drink elicited a 6.2 percent increase in systolic blood pressure vs a 3.1 percent increase with the placebo drink. Diastolic blood pressure increased by 6.8 percent vs 0 percent with placebo. Mean blood pressure increased after consumption of the energy drink by 6.4 percent vs by 1.0 percent with the placebo drink."

High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke, and while there are many factors such that can cause dangerous increases in blood pressure, a six percent increase after one energy drink is significant. 

"Considering that young people consume energy drinks with alcohol, smoking, and recreational drugs, such as cocaine, the hemodynamic and stress hormone responses may potentially increase further, possibly leading to increased risk of cardiovascular events," the study's author, Dr. Anna Svatikova, told ATTN:.

This is just the latest in a series of studies examining the various health concerns associated with energy drink consumption. Previous studies have suggested that the high levels of caffeine, guarana, ginseng, taurine, and other legal stimulants that exist in brands such as Monster, Rockstar, and Red Bull can lead to dangerous side effects.

Those side effects include (but are not limited to) dehydration, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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While Mayo Clinic has previously recommended limiting consumption of energy drinks to one 16-ounce can per day, this new study calls that recommendation into question. Just one Rockstar increased the heart rate and blood pressure of the healthy volunteers, and repeating that cardiovascular response on a daily basis appears to put consumers at risk of future heart problems, the researchers concluded.

In a statement to Time, the American Beverage Association responded to the study findings, saying that "the safety of energy drinks has been established by scientific research as well as regulatory agencies around the globe."

The organization added:

"Even so, America’s leading energy drink manufacturers voluntarily go far beyond all federal requirements when it comes to responsible labeling and marketing practices, including displaying total caffeine content—from all sources—on their packages along with advisory statements indicating that the product is not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women and persons sensitive to caffeine."

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