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Consuming just one energy drink can cause blood pressure and stress hormone levels to spike, according to a study of young, healthy adults.
The study found young adults who consumed one 16-ounce can of Rockstar Punched experienced a 74 percent increase in blood levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine, HealthDay reports. That level is more than double an average 30 percent increase the participants experienced when they consumed a sham energy drink with the same amount of sugar, but without the natural stimulants found in Rockstar.
Stimulants in Rockstar include caffeine, taurine, guarana, ginseng and milk thistle extract.
Average blood pressure rose by 6.4 percent after participants consumed an energy drink, compared with a 1 percent increase when they consumed a sham energy drink.
“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 arrhythmias,” leading to more heart attacks and strokes, said lead researcher Dr. Anna Svatikova, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting.
“As physicians, we should perhaps ask people about energy drink intake, and factor this in as we interpret their vital signs in emergency settings,” Svatikova said. “For the consumers, they should use caution when consuming energy drinks, because these drinks may increase their risk of sudden heart problems, even among young people.”
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about one in 10 energy drink-related emergency department visits among patients 12 years of age or older (11 percent) resulted in hospitalization. Energy drinks can contain up to five times more caffeine than a typical cup of coffee, SAMHSA notes.