Only an energy drink can damage your blood vessels

Only an energy drink can damage your blood vessels

Years of research have identified a number of serious health risks associated with shutting down some energy drinks, such as liver damage, increased blood pressure, dental erosion, and more.

»RELATED: How dangerous are energy drinks really? Study finds connection to serious heart problems

Despite the warnings, energy drinks are still among the most widely used supplements in the United States. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, "they drink almost a third of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 regularly."

Now, new research presented at the American Heart Association Summit in Chicago next week suggests that consuming just one drink can have a negative impact on blood vessel function.

For the study, scientists at McGovern Medical School in Houston examined 44 young, healthy and non-smoking medical students aged 20 and over. They tested baseline endothelial function (or blood vessel function) and then tested it 90 minutes after participants consumed a 24-ounce energy drink. Endothelial function is a strong indicator of cardiovascular risk.

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The researchers also noted flow-mediated arterial dilatation using ultrasound, which indicates total blood vessel health before and after the 90-minute mark.

What they found was an acute impairment of vascular function after just one drink. At the beginning of the study, the diameter of the vessels averaged 5.1 percent. After 90 minutes and one drink later, vessel dilation dropped to 2.8 percent in diameter.

According to leading researcher John Higgins, this reduction can limit blood flow and oxygen delivery.

»RELATED: Coroner: Caffeine overdose from soda, coffee and energy drinks led to the death of S.C.

"It's more work for the heart and less oxygen for the heart. This could explain why there were cases where children had cardiac arrest after an energy drink, "he told HealthDay.

The effects of reduction may ultimately lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke or rheumatic heart disease in addition to other vascular diseases.

While the study is small and examines only the acute effects of energy drinks, Higgins and his colleagues believe that the combination of caffeine, taurine, sugar and other ingredients is responsible for adverse effects.

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As noted by the American Heart Association, "added sugars add zero nutrients, but lots of extra calories that can lead to extra pounds or even overweight, which lowers heart health."

While caffeine has been associated with health benefits, the recommended daily limit for adults is 400 milligrams. However, some energy drinks contain more than 200 milligrams per ounce, including concentrated energy shots.

»LINK: The truth about the dangers of supplements

Nevertheless, industry groups claim that their drinks are safe.

"Mainstream energy drinks contain about half the caffeine of a similarly sized cup of coffeehouse coffee and have been thoroughly investigated and considered safe by state security agencies around the world," said William Dermody, spokesman for the American Beverage Association study, "nothing in this preliminary research stands for this contrary to established fact. "

Researchers will present their results provisionally until publication in a peer-reviewed journal on Monday, November 12.

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