While moderate coffee consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, its association with a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate, has been unclear.
Atrial fibrillation, or AF, is the most frequent form of irregular heartbeat, which causes a substantially increased risk of stroke, heart failure and death, and it has previously been speculated that high coffee consumption could increase your risk of developing the condition.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden conducted the largest study to date on the association between coffee consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation.
The study comprised 41,881 men and 34,594 women who reported how many cups of coffee they consumed and were followed up for 12 years. There were 4,311 and 2,730 incident AF cases in men and women, respectively, in the two cohorts. The average daily coffee consumption was three cups among both men and women. The study was followed up with a meta-analysis of four other studies.
And the result?
“We find no evidence that high consumption of coffee increases the risk of atrial fibrillation. This is important because it shows that people who like coffee can safely continue to consume it, at least in moderation, without the risk of developing this condition”, says lead author Susanna Larsson.
Interestingly, the study found that even those who enjoy “extreme levels of coffee consumption” experienced no increased risk of AF, meaning healthy coffee lovers can enjoy the beverage to their heart’s content.
However (there’s always a but!), although available evidence does not indicate that coffee consumption increases the risk of developing AF specifically, coffee may still trigger other forms of irregular heartbeat.
Data suggests that some individuals with AF at the start of the study may have quit drinking coffee or lowered their consumption because of an arrhythmic-triggering effect, meaning those with heart conditions should seek advice from their doctor on how much coffee they should drink.
Does coffee get your heart pounding? How many cups do you have per day?