Young, healthy adults who consumed just one energy drink experienced a more than 40% constriction of blood vessels, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago.
The increasingly popular beverages have previously been linked to cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, and psychiatric problems.
Energy drinks. Photo courtesy of AHA
Investigators led by John Higgins, MD, MBA, of the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas School of Health in Houston sought to determine whether the previously identified cardiovascular issues arose from effects on the vascular endothelial function.
“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,” the researchers noted.
For the study, the team evaluated the effects of the drinks on 44 medical students with a mean age of 24.7 and an average body mass index of 23.4. All were healthy non-smokers.
At baseline, the participants had a mean peak endothelium-dependent flow-mediated dilation of 5.1%. Ninety minutes after consuming one 24-oz. energy drink, the mean flow-mediated dilation dropped to 2.8%.
“Energy drink consumption was associated with an acute significant impairment in endothelial function in young, healthy adults,” the researchers said. “[I]t 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.”
The researchers hypothesized that the combination of ingredients in the energy drinks (caffeine, taurine, sugar and herbal agents) negatively affected the endothelium.
Previous studies have found that adverse effects associated with energy drinks particularly affected younger people, those with small stature and individuals who were caffeine naïve or sensitive. In addition, certain medical conditions, pregnancy and nursing, and concomitant use of some medications increase risk of adverse effects, as did consumption of multiple energy drinks at one time.
Mo1189: Energy Drink Induced Impairment of Arterial Endothelial Function in Healthy Young Adults