Drinking just one energy drink may decrease the vascular function of a person’s heart, according to the findings of new research, which adds to the growing evidence that suggests side effects of energy drinks can lead to major health consequences.
The preliminary findings of a new study will be presented by researchers from McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago next week, according to a press release issued by the association.
The research involved a group of 44 healthy, non-smoking medical students in their 20s. Study authors tested the endothelial, or blood vessel, function of each student before drinking a 24 ounce energy drink. The students endothelial function was tested again 90 minutes after consuming the energy drink.
According to the data, blood vessel function was affected after having only one energy drink. The students had an average of 5.1% blood vessel dilation before consuming an energy drink. After consuming the drink, blood vessel dilation dropped to 2.8%, suggesting the one drink had an “acute impairment” on blood vessel function.
Researchers believe the negative effect may be linked to the energy drinks’ ingredients, which includes caffeine, taurine, sugar, and other herbals. They speculate these ingredients may affect the endothelium of the vessels.
Numerous studies have linked popular energy drinks, such as Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar and others, to increased risk of heart problems, including abnormal heart rhythms and prolonged elevated blood pressure.
Other studies have found that energy drinks may cause a person to experience more forceful heart contractions, putting them at risk for heart attack and other cardiac problems.
Researchers have also linked the drinks to problems associated with the nerves and stomach. One study indicated heart problems can occur by drinking only two cans per day, while another study indicated it only took one 16-ounce can before users saw a spike in blood pressure.
Officials in the U.K. are considering banning energy drinks for teens, citing the high caffeine amounts as detrimental to adolescent health.
“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,” authors noted.
The findings of the study are considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.