Coffee and Heart Rhythm Disturbances

April 5th, 2010 | Sources: BurrillReport

Coffee drinkers are less likely to be hospitalized for heart rhythm disturbances, according to scientists who presented at an American Heart Association conference last month.

Coffee BreakThe findings might seem counterintuitive for people that experience palpitations after drinking coffee, especially if they believe palpitations are associated with heart rhythm disturbances (they are, but the association is weak, especially in young, healthy people).
Nevertheless Arthur Klatsky and colleagues from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research reached this conclusion by following 130,054 people. Those who reported drinking four or more cups of Joe per day had an 18% reduction in the risk of hospitalization for arrhythmias. People who reported consuming one to three cups per day had a 7% lower risk.
Previous studies showing the opposite result—that caffeine can produce arrhythmias—were based on much higher levels of caffeine intake, Klatsky said. He also cited the findings of a Danish study showing that heavy and light coffee drinkers experienced the same risk of atrial fibrillation, a common major disturbance of cardiac rhythm.
 “Coffee drinking is related to lower risk of hospitalization for rhythm problems, but the association does not prove cause and effect,” Klasky told BurrillReport. It is possible, for example, that other characteristics of coffee drinkers, like their dietary habits or how much they exercise, could be driving the apparent association.

As a result, it’s certainly not possible to advise people to drink coffee in order to prevent heart rhythm disturbances. Still, Klatsky felt his findings might reassure people who drink moderate amounts of coffee: their habit isn’t going to trigger a major rhythm disturbance.


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