Caffeine Does Not Cause Irregular Heartbeats In Heart Failure, Study Claims

First Posted: Oct 19, 2016 05:00 AM EDT

Coffee is considered to be one of the most popular caffeinated drinks out there. However, conventional people say that having too much caffeine in your drink can affect your heart. Now, a small Brazilian study has disputed that thinking and revealed that drinking high doses of caffeine doesn't seem to increase the risk of having irregular heartbeats, especially in people with heart failure.

According to UPI Health News, lead researcher Dr. Luis Rohde said: "Our data reassures that most patients with heart disease might drink moderate doses of caffeine-rich beverages with no major risks." Dr. Rohde is from the division of cardiology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre.

Beverages rich in caffeine have always been believed to cause a number of heart-related symptoms including palpitations or rapid or irregular heartbeats, Dr. Rohde said. "Because of this assumption, counseling to reduce or avoid caffeine consumption is still widely recommended in clinical practice by most physicians for patients with any heart disease," he said. However, Dr. Rohde's team did not find any connection between caffeine and abnormal heartbeats. He even explained saying: "In fact, our results challenge the perception that patients with heart disease and at risk for arrhythmias should avoid or limit caffeine intake."

For the study, researchers enlisted 51 patients with predominantly moderate-to-severe heart failure. Half of the group was given decaffeinated coffee combined with 500mg of caffeine over a five-hour period, while the other participants received placebo lactose powder, Global Times reported.

The study also included a treadmill test an hour after the last time the participants drank the beverage. This is to test the potential proarrhythmic effect of caffeine use during exercise with the highest blood caffeine concentration. The researchers were taken aback to find no connection between consuming caffeine and episodes of arrhythmia, even during the physical stress of a treadmill test. "We did not observe any indication of a potential increased risk of ventricular or supraventricular premature beats, couplets, or non-sustained tachycardia," they wrote in the paper.

Researchers' finding was published online Oct. 17 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Meanwhile, Dr. Christopher Granger, a professor of medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C. and co-authored an accompanying journal editorial, said: "this study adds to the body of evidence that coffee and caffeine consumption appears to be safe from a cardiovascular perspective. He further explained that even in a high-risk group, which he referred to as "a group you might be most concerned about drinking caffeine," it showed that modest caffeine consumption was safe, reported US News.

However, Dr. Granger also warned that caffeine is a stimulant and that it can somehow increase the blood pressure, although it didn't have an effect on the heart rate of those who joined the study. Dr. Granger noted that the study doesn't clear all forms of caffeine for heart patients either. "It did not take into account energy drinks that contain a lot of caffeine; there may be adverse effects from that," he said. The bottom line from this study is that "modest amounts of coffee are safe even for people who have heart problems," Granger said.

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