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Research Letter
November 17, 2015

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

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
JAMA. 2015;314(19):2079-2082. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13744

Energy drink consumption has been associated with serious cardiovascular events,1-4 possibly related to caffeine and other stimulants. We hypothesized that drinking a commercially available energy drink compared with a placebo drink increases blood pressure and heart rate in healthy adults at rest and in response to mental and physical stress (primary outcomes). Furthermore, we hypothesized that these hemodynamic changes are associated with sympathetic activation, which could predispose to increased cardiovascular risk (secondary outcomes).

We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover pilot study. The trial protocol is available in the Supplement. Twenty-five healthy volunteers aged 18 years or older, who were nonsmokers, free of known disease, and not taking medications, were recruited by word-of-mouth from the local community. Each participant consumed a can (480 mL; 16 fl oz) of a commercially available energy drink (Rockstar; Rockstar Inc) and placebo drink within 5 minutes, in random order on 2 separate days, maximum 2 weeks apart. The placebo drink, selected to match the nutritional constituents of the energy drink, was similar in taste, texture, and color but lacked caffeine and other stimulants of the energy drink (240 mg of caffeine, 2000 mg of taurine, and extracts of guarana seed, ginseng root, and milk thistle).