Scientists say caffeine-rich drinks can be good for cardiovascular health
Avoiding caffeine means people are missing out on benefits of coffee
Previous studies have linked drug to increased heart rate or irregular beat
Its high caffeine content has made it a firm favourite for people needing to kick start their day.
But there have long been fears that coffee can trigger dangerous heart palpitations, deterring some people from drinking it.
Now, however, scientists say drinking a strong coffee in the morning can deliver a much needed boost without setting the heart racing.
New research has shown that regular caffeine consumption does not trigger potentially dangerous heart palpitations – and can actually be good for cardiovascular health.
The scientists found consuming caffeine does not lead to extra heartbeats, which although common, can lead occasionally lead to heart or stroke-related deaths
Instead, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, suggest people are missing out on some of the potential health benefits of caffeinated food and drinks, such as chocolate and tea.
Dr Gregory Marcus, behind the study, suggested it was time for the guidelines to be re-considered.
‘Clinical recommendations advising against the regular consumption of caffeinated products to prevent disturbances of the heart’s cardiac rhythm should be reconsidered, as we may unnecessarily be discouraging consumption of items like chocolate, coffee and tea that might actually have cardiovascular benefits.
‘Given our recent work demonstrating that extra heartbeats can be dangerous, this finding is especially relevant.’
Excessive premature atrial contractions (PACs) are a common kind of heart arrhythmia, or heartbeat that is beating too fast, too slow, or irregular.
One of the most common symptoms is heart palpitations or someone having an unusual awareness of heartbeats and have been linked to stroke and death,
Premature ventricular contractions, where the heart skips a beat, (PVCs) have been linked to an increase in heart failure, coronary artery disease and death.
The researchers said both abnormalities have been tied to caffeine consumption through studies and trials, but these studies were performed several decades ago and did not use PACs and PVCs as a primary outcome.
But health guidelines state that if a patient’s history is consistent with premature extra beats, potential exacerbating factors – such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine – should be eliminated.
Other online medical resources for clinicians offer similar recommendations.
A growing body of evidence indicates that there are potential cardiovascular benefits of several common caffeinated products such as coffee, chocolate and tea.
Those findings have resulted in uncertainty among doctors when it comes to counselling patients on consumption of these products, with patients possibly reducing their intake to avoid presumed cardiac issues.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, analysed coffee tea and chocolate consumption of 1,388 randomly selected participants, excluding those with persistent extra heartbeats.
Of the total participants, 61 per cent had more than one caffeinated product daily.
The researchers found no differences in the number of PACs or PVCs per hour across levels of coffee, tea and chocolate intake.
More frequent consumption of these products was not associated with extra heartbeats.
‘This was the first community-based sample to look at the impact of caffeine on extra heartbeats, as previous studies looked at people with known arrhythmias,’ said lead author Shalini Dixit.
‘Whether acute consumption of these caffeinated products affects extra heartbeats requires further study.’
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