Scientific Sessions - photo of energy drink cansDrinking one 16-ounce energy drink boosts blood pressure and stress hormone responses in young, healthy adults, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015. These changes could conceivably trigger new cardiovascular events.

Researchers studied 25 healthy young adults with no known cardiovascular risk factors. Each drank one 16-ounce can of a commercially available energy drink or a sham drink in random order on two separate days. Researchers measured participants’ blood pressure and blood levels of norepinephrine before and 30 minutes after drink consumption. Norepinephrine is a “fight or flight” chemical that increases blood pressure and the heart’s ability to contract and it modulates heart rate and breathing in response to perceived stress.

Researchers found that in addition to increases in blood pressure after consuming the energy drink, participants’ norepinephrine levels increased more than twice as much when compared to those who drank the sham drink. Specifically, norepinephrine levels increased by almost 74 percent after the energy drink consumption, versus by 30 percent after the sham drink.

Researchers said their findings suggest increases in blood pressure and stress hormones could predispose otherwise healthy, young adults to increased cardiovascular risk.