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.