For many of us, coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages are part of our daily routine. But for people with heart conditions, caffeine consumption may be something to keep an eye on.
If you’ve ever felt a bit jittery after a strong cup of coffee or tea, this is attributed to caffeine’s short-term effects. Caffeine can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, and its stimulatory effects typically peak within the first hour and then fade over the next few hours. When considering the link between caffeine consumption and heart health, three things should be kept in mind:
1. The amount of caffeine you consume
It’s recommended that your daily caffeine intake should not exceed 400 milligrams.1 That’s about 4 cups of brewed black coffee. However, depending on your sensitivity, this recommended amount could vary. Be mindful of how much caffeine you consume and take note when it’s starting to make you feel jittery, or if it’s causing your heart rate to increase dramatically. You could also switch to decaf coffee, which has about 8-15 mg per cup and is a great way to cut back your caffeine intake.
2. The way you consume caffeine
Not all caffeinated drinks are created equal. Many store-bought caffeinated beverages—like energy drinks or soda—contain large amounts of sugar and excess calories, in addition to caffeine. Frequent consumption of drinks like these may worsen risk factors for heart disease, like obesity and diabetes.
3. The symptoms you experience after caffeine consumption
Stimulants like caffeine may cause brief heart rhythm disturbances, such as premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), where extra heartbeats that originate in the bottom of the heart beat sooner than the next expected regular heartbeat. This can sometimes feel like your heart is “skipping” a beat. While occasional PVCs may be harmless for some, those with existing heart conditions should pay close attention to the frequency of these occurrences. If you’ve experienced PVCs—triggered by caffeine or otherwise—consult with your doctor about the appropriate next steps.
Tips for heart-healthy caffeine intake
Most people can still enjoy a daily cup of coffee or tea without compromising their heart health. Take note of these simple steps that can help you enjoy in moderation:
- Prepare your caffeinated beverage in a heart-friendly way. Reduce the quantity of sugar you add and/or swap whole milk for healthier alternatives.
- Limit your caffeine intake from other sources like soft drinks and energy drinks, especially if you are caffeine-sensitive. If you have a pre-existing heart condition, it’s best to consult your doctor about the safe levels of caffeine consumption for you.
- The bottom line is to keep an eye on your caffeine consumption and talk with your doctor to help you understand how caffeine may affect your heart.