A Randomized Trial of Cardiovascular Responses to Energy Drink Consumption in Healthy Adults

Bo Ri Kim, Mercer University College of Pharmacy.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), indiscriminant use of energy drinks, even one serving per day, may boost heart disease risk in young adults.

Drinking just one 16-ounce energy drink a day has been found to increase blood pressure and stress hormone response in young, health adults. The AHA states these changes can initiate cardiovascular events. [1]

Caffeinated drinks have been found to cause irregular heart rate, elevated blood pressure, sleep disturbances, diuresis, and hyperglycemia due to the high sugar content of the energy drinks. It is said that while the total range of cardiovascular effects of the ingredients in energy drinks is unclear, it may lead to a lethal proarrhythmogenic outcome. [2]

This study is to determine the physiological/cardiovascular response to energy drink consumption as compared to a control drink both at rest and during stressful conditions in health adults.

A Randomized Trial of Cardiovascular Responses to Energy Drink Consumption in Healthy Adults [3]
Design Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover pilot study; N= 25
Objective To determine the hemodynamic changes (magnitude of heart rate and blood pressure response) in healthy adults after consumption of an energy drink and compare these responses to those after a control drink
Study Groups Healthy and normotensive 25 subjects. Each subject consumed a placebo drink and a commercially available Rockstar energy drink.
Methods ·      Each subject consumed a placebo drink and a commercially available Rockstar energy drink (473 ml), in random order on two separate study days.

·      Blood pressure and heart rate responses were recorded and compared before and 30 minutes after drink consumption, both at rest and then in response to physical, mental and cold stressors.

Duration August – November 2013
Primary Outcome Measure Electrocardiographic and hemodynamic response to consumption of an energy drink
Baseline Characteristics Studied 25 healthy participants (14 men) with a mean age of 29 years (95% CI, 26-31) and a mean body mass index of 25 (95% CI, 23-26).
Results   Before drink

(95% CI)

After drink

(95% CI)

p value
Caffeine, ug/mL
Placebo Undetectable Undetectable < 0.001
Energy drink Undetectable 3.4 (3.1-3.7) < 0.001
Glucose, mg/dL
Placebo 92.7 (90.1-95.2) 143.3 (135.0-151.6) 0.2
Energy drink 93.0 (90.4-95.6) 151.9 (143.3-160.2) 0.2
Norepinephrine, pg/mL
Placebo 139.9 (116.3-163.5) 178.6 (143.7-213.5) 0.003
Energy drink 149.8 (126.3-173.4) 249.8 (214.9-284.7) 0.003
·      Consumption of the energy drink elicited a 6.2% (95% CI, 4.5% to 7.8%) increase in systolic blood pressure (from 108.4 mm Hg to 115.0 mm Hg) vs. a 3.1% (95% CI, 1.5% to 4.7%) increase with the placebo drink (from 108.3 mm Hg to 111.6 mm Hg) (p = .01).

·      Diastolic blood pressure increased by 6.8% (95% CI, 4.1% to 9.6%) vs. 0% (95% CI, −2.8% to 2.8%) with placebo (p = .001).

·      Mean blood pressure increased after consumption of the energy drink by 6.4% (95% CI, 4.3% to 8.6%) from 74.2 mm Hg to 78.9 mm Hg vs. by 1.0% (95% CI, −1.2% to 3.2%) with the placebo drink (from 74.9 mm Hg to 75.4 mm Hg) (p < .001).

·      There was no significant difference in heart rate increase between the two groups.

Adverse Events Not specified
Study Author Conclusions The commercially available energy drink significantly increased levels of blood pressure and catecholamines in young healthy adults. Physical, mental, or cold stress did not further accentuate the blood pressure increase. These acute hemodynamic and adrenergic changes may predispose to increased cardiovascular risk.

The limitations of this study are the small sample size and that only one energy-drink was the subject of study. In the future, larger sample sizes are needed to fully understand the effects of hemodynamic changes in cardiovascular risk.


  1. American Heart Association. http://blog.heart.org/just-one-energy-drink-may-boost-heart-disease-risk-in-young-adults/. Accessed on November 28, 2015. 11. 2. Sepkowitz  KA.  Energy drinks and caffeine-related adverse effects. JAMA. 2013;309(3):243-244.
  2. Svatikova A, Covassin N, Somers K, et al. A Randomized Trial of Cardiovascular Responses to Energy Drink Consumption in Healthy Adults. JAMA. 2015 Nov 17;314(19):2079-82.

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