Healthy young adults who don't consume caffeine regularly experienced greater rise in resting blood pressure after consumption of a commercially available energy drink - compared to a placebo drink - thus raising the concern that energy drinks may increase the risk of cardiac events.
In this study, researchers alternately gave a can of a commercially available energy drink or a placebo drink to 25 healthy young adults, age 19 to 40, and assessed changes in heart rate and blood pressure. Blood pressure and heart rate were recorded before and 30 minutes after energy drink/placebo drink consumption, and were also compared between caffeine-naïve participants (those consuming less than 160 mg of caffeine per day, the amount frequently found in a cup of coffee) and regular caffeine users (those consuming more than 160 mg of caffeine per day).
Participants experienced a marked rise in blood pressure after consuming the energy drink as compared to the placebo. The effect was most dramatic in people who did not typically consume much caffeine, researchers found. Overall, the blood pressure increase was more than doubled in caffeine naïve adults after consuming the energy drink vs. placebo, they found.
"We know that energy drink consumption is widespread and rising among young people. Concerns about the health safety of energy drinks have been raised. We and others have previously shown that energy drinks increase blood pressure," says lead author Anna Svatikova, M.D., Ph.D., cardiovascular diseases fellow at the Mayo Clinic. "Now we are seeing that for those not used to caffeine, the concern may be even greater. Consumers should use caution when using energy drinks because they may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, even among young people."