Caffeine won't disturb heart's rhythm, but may raise blood pressure

March 23, 2005 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Caffeine won't disturb heart's rhythm, but may raise blood pressure

The results of a six-year study examining the effects of caffeine consumption on the heartís rhythm found that moderate caffeine consumption does not appear to trigger an abnormal rhythm of the atria, the upper chambers of the heart.

During the study, researchers at Aarhus University Hospital followed almost 48,000 people, noting what they ate and drank and who developed atrial fibrillation or flutter. The effects of caffeine were evaluated through the consumption of coffee, tea, cola, cocoa or chocolate. Researchers found that those who consumed the most caffeine per day -- roughly 1,000 milligrams, or about 10 cups of coffee -- were no more likely to experience atrial fibrillation or flutter than people who drank the least amount, equivalent to between 2 and 3 cups of coffee each day.

While caffeine does not appear to disturb heart rhythm, it does appear to raise blood pressure slightly, and increase the body's concentration of homocysteine, high levels of which have been linked to heart disease. That effect alone is enough to justify counselling high-risk people to moderate their caffeine intake in conjunction with other interventions, such as smoking cessation, weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats.

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