Study links energy drinks to heart attack risk

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Blood

Energy drink consumption has been linked to heart attack risk in a newly published study, but Red Bull claims the research is old and the results would be no different for a cup of coffee.

Writing in the American Journal of Medicine​, scientists at the University of Adelaide, Australia, looked at the impact of consuming one 250-ml energy drink on platelet and endothelial function. This is because heart attack risk is strongly associated with platelet and endothelial dysfunction.

The researchers gave fifty healthy subjects a 250-ml can of a sugar-free energy drink containing 80mg of caffeine, 1000mg of taurine and 600mg of glucouronolactone, or a 250ml carbonated water drink (control).


While no changes were observed with the control group, the researchers observed an increase in platelet aggregation, and an impairment of endothelial function, among the volunteers one hour after they consumed the energy drink. A significant increase in arterial blood pressure was also recorded but there was no significant change in heart rate.

Discussing the results, the scientists said it remains uncertain which ingredients are responsible for the findings but they did suggest that glucouronolactone may be a major contributor. They concluded that more research is needed to determine the clinical implications of the findings.

A spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation agreed. “This research showed blood changes in young people, but we cannot say from the study that this would lead to any heart problems occurring. However the study does illustrate the urgent need for further research in this area.”

Red Bull response

Red Bull, chief science officer, Andreas Kadi, advised that the results of the study be put into perspective.

He told “The study does not show an effect which would go beyond that of drinking a cup of coffee. Therefore the reported results were to be expected and lie within normal physiological ranges.”

Kadi also suggested that the newly published research is an old story.

Lead author Matthew Worthley published a paper called “Acute effects of Red Bull on platelet and endothelial function”​ in 2008 in Heart, Lung, and Circulation. was unable to contact Worthley for comment before publication.

Source: American Journal of Medicine
“Detrimental Effects of Energy Drink Consumption on Platelet and Endothelial Function”
Authors: M.I. Worthley, A. Prabhu, P. de Sciscio, C. Schultz, P. Sanders, S.R. Willoughby

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