A new study has found that consuming just one energy drink could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in 90 minutes, with researchers saying the drinks narrow blood vessels - which can restrict the flow of blood to vital organs.
While previous studies have found a link between energy drinks and stomach, nerve and heart problems, the new findings from the University of Texas in Houston are among the first to shed light on the potential increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Researchers looked at 44 students from the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, with all participants in their 20s and classed as 'healthy' non-smokers.
They tested the function of endothelium, the layer of cells lining the surface of blood vessels - the dysfunction of which has been shown to be an indicator of heart attacks as arteries aren't able to fully dilate.
Participants' endothelial function was tested before each of them drank a 24-ounce energy drink, before being tested again 90 minutes later. Within that time, the internal diameter of blood vessels had, on average, been decreased by nearly half.
Dr John Higgins, a professor of medicine at the McGovern School, said: "As energy drinks are becoming more and more popular, it is important to study the effects of these drinks on those who frequently drink them and better determine what, if any, is a safe consumption pattern."
Other past studies have also explored the effects of energy drinks on young people.
In one study from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, researchers found that 55% of 12 to 24-year-olds surveyed reported suffering conditions such as vomiting, chest pains and even seizures after having the drinks.
Lead author of the study, Professor David Hammond said: "Most risk assessments to date have used coffee as a reference for estimating the health effects of energy drinks, however, it is clear these products pose a greater health risk.
"The health effects from energy [drinks] could be due to different ingredients than coffee, or the ways in which they are consumed, including with alcohol or during physical activity."
TV chef Jamie Oliver has also been very vocal about the potential risks of energy drinks - having campaigned for children to be banned from buying the products.
Earlier this year, he told the Mirror: "We have a massive problem with kids and energy drinks.
"Too many children are regularly using them to replace breakfast. Teachers from across the country have told me how their lessons are disrupted in classrooms because of these drinks, packed with stimulants.
"The energy drinks industry has never thought these products were suitable for children.
"They even say 'not for children' on the labels! The sale to kids should be stopped as soon as possible.
"It's really great news that the government is announcing their intention to stop selling these drinks to kids.
"I'm sure parents and health experts across the UK will happily tell the government this is the right thing to do."Featured Image Credit: PA