Black coffee used to be the main source of caffeine in the United States before a coffeehouse was built on every other street corner touting a flavorful variety of mochas, lattes, and cappuccinos. America was stimulated by the idea that caffeine was not just for breakfast and coffee breaks any longer.
Recently, the push has been toward highly-caffeinated energy drinks, which pack a punch with not only caffeine, but also a wide array of other stimulants. ReactDx, the leader in mobile cardiac telemetry, is dedicated to bringing you information pertaining to heart health, including the effects of energy drinks on your cardiovascular system. Read below for a recent study concerning energy drinks.
The Mayo Clinic conducted a study concerning the effects of one energy drink on the cardiovascular system. The study subjects included 25 healthy adults with an average age of 29. Subjects were given either an energy drink or a placebo. The beverages were consumed within five minutes on an empty stomach and tests were conducted 30 minutes after consumption.
Caffeine and many other drugs are stimulants. Stimulants cause the release of norepinephrine, the chemical responsible for the “fight or flight” response in our bodies.
Because energy drinks contain a large amount of caffeine, ginseng root, and guarana seed extracts – all stimulants – the amount of norepinephrine released increases dramatically after only a single drink, and here is what researchers found.
- Researchers in the study noted a 74% increase in norepinephrine release – 250 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL) 30 minutes after consumption of an energy drink versus 150 pg/mL prior to drinking the beverage. The double-blind study also showed an increase on the placebo given to another group of individuals; the placebo noted a small increase from 140 pg/mL to 179 pg/mL.
- Blood pressure is directly linked to norepinephrine, which increases the heart rate and blood pressure. The study found those participants drinking the placebo beverage showed a 3.3% increase in blood pressure 30 minutes after consumption while those drinking the energy drink had a 6.6% rise in systolic blood pressure and a 7% increase in diastolic pressure.
- Mayo Clinic cardiology fellow Anna Svatikova states that increase in norepinephrine “…could predispose an increased risk of cardiac events – even in healthy people.” Energy drinks contain approximately 180-250 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce container, compared with 35-50 mg of caffeine in an average carbonated soda. Carbonated sodas lack the other stimulants also found in energy drinks.
The researchers cautioned that consumption of multiple energy drinks in a short period of time, or even one energy drink a day for a series of days, could elevate blood pressure and heart rate to levels dangerous for those with a heart condition and could possibly cause healthy individuals to be more vulnerable to heart problems in the future.