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May 09, 2018

Coffee and Tea are Safe for Patients with Abnormal Heart Rhythm

Experts find a lack of evidence to support concerns about caffeine and abnormal heart rhythm.

Despite prior concerns, experts have concluded that coffee and tea are safe for patients with an abnormal heart rhythm, based on a review of all available evidence.

Published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, this study looked at the impact of caffeinated beverages on heart rhythm. The goal was to see whether concerns about caffeine triggering abnormal heart rhythms are backed up by reliable evidence.

Studies were included if they looked at the impact of any form of caffeine such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and even chocolate, on heart rhythm. Overall, researchers found no evidence supporting the link between caffeine intake and increased risk for abnormal heart rhythms.

In fact, most studies showed the opposite—that coffee and tea consumption may actually reduce risk for abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation, often referred to as AFib, is the most common type of abnormal rhythm that affects as many as 6.1 million U.S. adults. AFib drastically increases risk for stroke and many health care providers currently advise patients to avoid caffeine, for fear that it could trigger abnormal heart rhythms.

Based on findings, authors conclude that regular caffeine intake, like through coffee and tea, is both safe and may even protect against heart rhythm disorders. However, they note that the “safe” cutoff for daily caffeine intake was around 300 mg a day.

For reference, a can of soda has about 32 mg of caffeine, a cup of tea has 35–55 mg, and a single serving of coffee or espresso has about 75–106 mg of caffeine. So most individuals can safely have up to a few servings a day of these beverages without having an impact on heart rhythm.

However, it’s important to note that many energy drinks exceed this cutoff, with the caffeine content ranging from around 160 mg to 500 mg in a single serving. As a result, experts advise caution when drinking energy drinks, as studies have raised concerns about the potential health effects of these caffeine-packed beverages.

Authors also note that while moderate caffeine consumption appears harmless for heart rhythm, caffeine may be discouraged in certain individuals. For example, if an individual experiences noticeable effects between caffeine intake and arrhythmia episodes, then avoiding caffeinated beverages is reasonable.


Questions for You to Consider

  • Are there drawbacks to drinking a lot of coffee?

  • Although there is strong evidence associating coffee with heart disease, caffeine is a mild stimulant and, as such, can cause a small, temporary rise in blood pressure and heart rate. It can also trigger heartburn and upset stomach in some people. While coffee itself has few or no calories, an extra-large caramel latte is a definite diet buster. Finally, heavy caffeine use can result in the “jitters” during the day and trouble sleeping at night.
  • Is drinking coffee safe for my heart
  • Many studies have shown that drinking coffee on a daily basis is safe for the heart and may actually reduce risk for heart disease. For most healthy adults, moderate coffee consumption can be part of a healthy diet, and for individuals that experience side effects from coffee, decaffeinated coffee can be a useful alternative.

Featured Video

AFib affects more than 3 million people in the United States.

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Infographic: AFib