Energy drinks, sugar and stimulant packed juices for anyone trying to turn up their day at work or night out, are bad for you. Shocker. But just how bad? A recent Mayo Clinic study found out what having just one drink does to the body — and it could literally break your heart.
Mayo Clinic researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study on 25 healthy volunteers, 14 of whom were male, with an average age of 29. All participants were also non-smokers.
The participants were either given the energy drink Rockstar or a placebo that was almost an exact copy of the energy drink but without caffeine and stimulants like taurine, guarana and ginseng.
Over the course of two separate days no more than two weeks apart, participants drank the 16-ounce energy drink (or the placebo) within five minutes while scientists monitored their heart rate, blood pressure and hormone levels. The participants were also asked to abstain from alcohol and caffeine before the day of the study.
The results were dramatic: not only did caffeine levels in the body rise, but researchers noticed that the stress hormone norepinephrine shot up to 74%, compared to 31% in the participants who drank the placebo.
Norepinephrine, also known as the fight-or-flight chemical, adds to the increased heart rate, blood pressure and the burning of sugar stores in the body as it prepares to flee a given situation.
The combination of the whopping amounts of sugar, additional stimulants and caffeine, which is also known to raise blood pressure and constrict the veins, can put you at risk of heart disease even if you are perfectly healthy — and after just one drink.
Researchers also noted that systolic and dystolic blood pressure rose by 6%. According to the study, “These acute hemodynamic and adrenergic changes may predispose to increased cardiovascular risk.”
While the sample size of the study was relatively small and only tested the effects of one drink, the results warrant a much closer look for the sake of people who drink multiple energy drinks a day. Dr. Anna Svatikova, an author of the study, explained:
“These results suggest that people should be cautious when consuming energy drinks due to possible health risks. Asking patients about energy drink consumption should become routine for physicians, particularly when interpreting vital signs in the acute setting.”
So just how bad is one drink for you? It’s safe to say you may want to think about giving your heart a break from all the sugar and chemicals that specifically force it to work harder.