Just one energy drink can increase heart attack risk


The 2 Week Diet

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: your energy drink is killing you from the inside out.

They’re bad for your liver, your waistline, your teeth, and they can even harm your mental health, causing depression, headaches and irritability.

But if you need another reason to let go of your canned caffeine hit, fresh findings from the University of Texas at Houston should do it.

Downing just one energy drink can narrow your blood vessels in an hour and a half, reducing blood flow to your organs and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a new study.

(Related: A man died by suicide after becoming addicted to energy drinks)

Researchers set out to test the impact of energy drinks on the endothelium, a thin layer of cells that lines blood vessels, in 44 ‘healthy’ and non-smoking adults in their twenties.

They tested the participants’ endothelial function before and 90 minutes after consuming a 24-ounce energy drink (equivalent to nearly three 250ml cans of Red Bull), using an ultrasound technique called artery flow-mediated dilation.

Within an hour and a half, the internal diameter of blood vessels had been cut by around half, on average. Before, vessel dilation was on average 5.1 per cent in diameter; afterwards it fell to around 2.8 per cent, suggesting ‘acute impairment in vascular function’.

(Related: 7 investments for a better heart)

This is down to the effects of ingredients such as caffeine, taurine, sugar and other herbals, the researchers suggested.

If you’re routinely downing an energy drink before hitting the gym, you might want to rethink your choice of pre-workout. Exercising requires maximum blood flow, so oxygen can reach your muscles quickly.

(Related: What happened when one MH staffer went cold turkey on caffeine)

Energy drinks that reduce the vessels’ diameter will restrict oxygen delivery, lead researcher Dr John Higgins explained. Not only will your performance suffer, but your oxygen-starved heart will have to work twice as hard to sustain maximum efforts.

“This could explain why there have been cases where [people] have had a cardiac arrest after an energy drink,” he said.

Worried? Ditch the energy drinks for good and chow down on these five foods to iron-clad your ticker

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