Turns out, Red Bull might give you more than just wings. Drinking just one large can of energy drink a day could raise your blood pressure and increase risk of heart problems in young adults, a new study finds. It also significantly boosts levels of norepinephrine, also known as the “fight or flight” hormone.
In the study, the researchers had 25 men and women above age 18, with no prior cardiovascular problems, drink a 16-ounce Rockstar energy drink one day, and a placebo drink on another day. They then measured the men and women’s blood pressure and their levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine before the trial and then 30 minutes after they drank the beverage. Within a half hour, study participants showed a spike in noradrenaline by almost 74%, and a 6.4% increase in blood pressure.
Noradrenaline is usually released during times of stress, and increases blood pressure and the heart’s ability to contract. It also makes your brain more alert, which is why some young people associate energy drinks with better concentration.
However, these changes could put otherwise healthy young people at a greater risk of heart problems.
“The worry is that if these responses are seen in healthy young people, perhaps the effects of energy drinks may be more pronounced in people who already have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat,” said researcher Dr. Anna Svatikova, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic. This could up their risk of heart attacks and strokes, she added, though more research is needed.
Rockstar is the top selling energy drink in the United States, especially popular among teens and young adults. One 32-ounce can of Rockstar contains 240 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to about two cups of coffee, and 2,000 mg of taurine, a stimulant believed to boost mental and physical performance.