You know that caffeine can give you the jitters, but does it increase the likelihood of heart problems? The answer: It depends. Too much caffeine can be bad for you, much like too much of anything — except possibly leafy green vegetables — can be bad for you.
The expert providers at Heart & Vascular Institute recognize you may have questions about appropriate nutrition, including caffeine consumption, if you were recently diagnosed with arrhythmia, heart palpitations, hypertension, or another cardiovascular problem.
We offer some general guidelines here but encourage you to discuss the issue with your doctor for personalized guidance.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in many foods and beverages, including colas, teas, chocolate, and of course, coffee. It stimulates your central nervous system, can make you urinate more often, and can increase your risk of dehydration.
Caffeine has a long history of being deemed bad for you or good for you.
Caffeine and your heart
Several recent studies have examined the link between cardiovascular risk and caffeine intake.
One, for example, considered coffee consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke among participants in three large studies. It found that higher coffee intake was associated with a lower risk of heart failure across all three studies.
Another study found that drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and dangerous heart rhythms and living longer.
One other study asked people to wear devices that monitored their activity levels, sleep, blood sugar, and heart rhythm. The participants then drank as much coffee as they wanted for two days, then abstained for two days, repeating the cycle for 14 days.
The study participants walked an average of 1,000 more steps on the days they drank coffee but slept 36 minutes less per night. Coffee consumption didn’t appear to be associated with atrial contractions but did seem to cause premature ventricular contractions.
The source and amount matter
But what if you’re not a coffee drinker? Should you take caffeine pills? Could soda be a good source of caffeine?
The answer to those questions is no. Having a cup of coffee each day, or even a few cups of coffee, appears to be safe. However, caffeine is also associated with some undesirable side effects, so seeking it out deliberately doesn’t make sense.
And it’s important to watch your overall diet to keep your heart as healthy as possible. Adding empty calories and sugar with soda isn’t going to help. Most of the recent studies we’ve discussed only considered coffee drinking and heart issues.
As the last study discussed above shows, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor about caffeine. Your specific diagnosis, lifestyle factors, and other elements of your health mean your situation is unique.
If you have questions about whether caffeine is safe for you, schedule an appointment by phone or online at Heart & Vascular Institute today. We have conveniently located offices in Dearborn, Detroit, Southfield, and Wayne, Michigan.