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Coffee drinking is not linked to heart rhythm disturbance

04/07/2010 - Articles

Coffee drinking is not linked to heart rhythm disturbance

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD

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Coffee drinking sometimes brings on heart palpitations and people may be concerned that it is bad for the heart. However, a new study from researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, California, now reveals that normal amounts of coffee don’t harm heart health. Indeed, people who drink a lot of coffee are actually rather less likely to be hospitalized for heart rhythm disturbances. In the new study, over 130,000 men and women were monitored and those drinking four or more cups of coffee a day were 18% less likely to enter hospital for a heart rhythm problem than those who did not drink coffee. Those who drank one to three cups of coffee a day had a 7% reduction in risk. The findings don’t prove cause and effect and do not mean coffee actually protects the heart from heart rhythm disturbance. It might be that coffee drinking is linked to other heart protective factors in the lifestyle of consumers. It is also possible that caffeine affects the electrical activity of the heart through inhibition of adenosine, which is active in this role. Coffee drinkers can therefore ‘take heart’ that their beverage is not causing an increased risk of heart rhythm disturbance.

The study found that 2% of participants were hospitalized for a range of heart rhythm disturbances such as atrial fibrillation and tachycardia. The reduction in risk with coffee intake was similar whatever the disorder and was independent of gender, ethnicity or smoking status. It is the biggest population study to look at all types of major heart rhythm disturbance and coffee intake. It adds to previous evidence from Denmark that shows no difference between heavy and light coffee drinkers with respect to risk of atrial fibrillation.

 

Source:

Klatsky A et al American Heart Association Meeting March 5 2010

 

Created on: 04/07/2010
Reviewed on: 04/07/2010

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