Coffee lovers rejoice! Scientists have said that there is more evidence than ever to suggest that drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning is a habit you won’t have to change, even if you’ve experienced recent heart failure.
A clinical trial by Brazilian researchers found no link between caffeine ingestion and arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythms.
Researchers recruited 51 such patients to undergo a brief clinical trial. Half were given caffeinated coffee every hour for five hours, while the other half received decaf. Then their heart health — measured by whether they had any arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats — was assessed as they rested and soon after they exercised on a treadmill. Even with the added strain of exercise, the researchers found no connection between arrhythmia and caffeine consumption. Their findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Lead author Luis Rohde, of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, said the findings should reassure habitual coffee drinkers with heart problems. “Our paper demonstrates that there is no major risk of taking moderate to high doses of caffeine in patients with heart disease,” The Australian reports.
Previous studies have suggested coffee can help protect against diabetes, depression, deafness, dementia and at least five types of cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease. But Dr Rohde stopped short of prescribing caffeine as a heart health enhancer, saying the scientific evidence was limited.
But there was also no clear link between caffeine consumption and long-term increases in blood pressure. “I see no problem for hypertensive patients to drink coffee in moderation,” he said.
The study does have caveats, namely its relatively small sample size. The fact that at least half the patients were already regular coffee drinkers prior to the study may also have slightly skewed the results, since their tolerance could dull caffeine’s physiological effects. Lastly, the researchers admitted that their findings can’t wholly discount the possibility that long-term caffeine use could hurt the heart.
Still, for those people eager to return to their normal life following a heart scare, it’s likely there’s nothing to be overly worried about when it comes to coffee.