Caffeine on its own offers various benefits, such as relieving headaches, treating conditions like diabetes and asthma, and improving mental alertness. But, when combined with artificial sweeteners and similar additives, caffeine converts into a toxic cocktail which can damage the cardiovascular system and increase the risk for a heart attack.
This is exactly what happened to Cory Terry, a 33-year old father who died of a heart attack after drinking one of the most popular energy drinks- Red Bull. As explained by his mother, he was a physically active non-smoker who consumed Red Bull regularly.
“He drank that stuff all the time. He said it perked him up,” she told the New York Daily News.
Does Red Bull Cause Heart Attacks?
According to a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Red Bull and similar drinks could negatively affect those with cardiovascular conditions. In addition, they might cause similar symptoms in healthy individuals, too.
One study involved giving fifteen healthy participants two cans of energy drink similar to Red Bull in terms of ingredients for a week.
It has been found that their blood pressure increased by 8 percent only four hours after drinking the beverage, rising up to 10 percent by the end of the week. It was also found that their heart rates increased by 8 percent on the first day and climbed 11 percent by the end of the week.
Both of the aforementioned factors are linked to an increased risk of heart attack. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can cause damage to the arteries, which in turn leads to heart attack-causing clots and stroke.
What Is In Red Bull?
In addition to sugar and carbonation, Red Bull`s major ingredients include stimulants ( taurine and caffeine), and a few B-group vitamins.
Even though these ingredients on their own have not been shown to cause negative side effects, minimal research has been conducted on the effect of the combination of these ingredients.
Another study explored the effect that Red Bull had on people during and after an exercise. The trial involved 13 subjects who engaged in endurance training. The researchers had them exercise three times daily, and each time before they exercised they were given a Red Bull, a beverage similar to it but without taurine, and a stimulant-free placebo.
The team of researchers found that Red Bull was the only one to affect participant`s stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped by the heart. In other words, even though the stimulants in Red Bull might not cause any serious side effects separately, they do have a significant effect on the cardiovascular system when combined. This significant effect refers to an increased risk of heart attacks.
The bottom line is that these studies prove what most people were familiar with already. Red Bull and similar energy drinks are not good for the heart!
If you need caffeine to jumpstart your day, stick to coffee or other drink that contains only one stimulant. Another option is to opt for natural, energy-boosting beverages.