New research suggests that drinking coffee doesn’t seem to up the odds of a common type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.
The study included 75,000 people who reported their coffee consumption in 1997. Their average coffee consumption was three cups a day. The researchers followed the participants’ health for the next 12 years. The researchers also reviewed findings from four previous studies that followed nearly 250,000 people for up to 12 years. All studies were done in Sweden or the United States.
The investigators found no link between drinking coffee and atrial fibrillation in any of the studies. That was true even among those with the highest levels of coffee consumption. The findings were published September 22 in the journal BMC Medicine.
“This is the largest prospective study to date on the association between coffee consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation. We find no evidence that high consumption of coffee increases the risk of atrial fibrillation,” study author Susanna Larsson said in a journal news release.
Larsson is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
Atrial fibrillation can significantly increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and death, the researchers said.
Despite these studies, I have my AF (atrial fibrillation) patients stop drinking coffee initially. However, once their symptoms have resolved for several months, I do allow them to add a cup of coffee per day, as long as they remain asymptomatic.
Personally, I have been asymptomatic for seven months and recently started having a cup of coffee in the morning once or twice a week. I really do enjoy the ritual of making a cup and spending some time with my wife early in the morning. We review our daily schedules, plan dinner and get our last teenager off to school. For me, it’s a few minutes of relaxation before the hustle and bustle of the day begin.
However, AF is a lifestyle issue not a disease. I address as many aspects of lifestyle as possible to resolve AF – diet, exercise, sleep habits, glucose metabolism and stress adaptation. If all these factors are managed properly, then coffee probably is not an issue.
The type of coffee may be more important than how much is consumed. I find no side effects from drinking a cup of organic coffee. However, even decaffeinated coffee can make me jittery from all the chemical additives. There are several brands of organic coffee available at most supermarkets.
The Bottom Line:
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a multifaceted condition related to lifestyle. I recommend stopping all coffee until you are asymptomatic. While not a direct cause, I still belief it is an aggravating factor.
Source: September 23, 2015 National Institutes of Health