Aside from helping you cling on to your fleeting productivity and energy levels, coffee has some pretty amazing health benefits. Especially for your heart.
Previously, research found drinking one to two cups of java per day could significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease-related death by as much as 38%. Now, an American College of Cardiology review published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, suggests that you can drink up to three cups of coffee a day and still protect your heart—even for people with atrial or ventricular arrhythmias.
Typically, patients are told to avoid caffeinated beverages if they suffer from any type of arrhythmias—when the heart beats too fast, slow, or erratically—but the new review indicates coffee and tea are safe. In fact, they may even reduce the frequency of arrhythmias. But in the review, one meta-analysis of 228,465 participants showed the frequency of atrial fibrillation dropped by 6% in regular coffee drinkers, while a further analysis of 115,993 patients exhibited a 13 % risk reduction.
One cup of coffee has about 95mg of caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system and blocks the effects of adenosine, a chemical that can facilitate atrial fibrillation (a disorder where the heart beats too rapidly and/or skip beats, which can cause strokes). Even patients with ventricular arrhythmias who consumed nearly 500mg of caffeine (between five and six cups) didn’t increase their risk; however, the risk climbed at 10 cups. (It’s worth noting that because every individual responds differently to caffeine, the review’s findings don’t apply to eveyone. In fact, 25% of people report coffee as an atrial fibrillation trigger. Speak to your doctor if you experience any symptoms post-caffeine consumption.)
“Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea may have long-term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,” lead review author Peter Kistler said in a press release. “In numerous population-based studies, patients who regularly consume coffee and tea at moderate levels have a lower lifetime risk of developing heart rhythm problems and possibly improved survival.”
The one thing researchers advise people with pre-existing heart conditions avoid? Energy drinks.
Just one can of the stuff can have anywhere from 160-500mg of concentrated caffeine. About three-quarters of patients with pre-existing heart conditions who consumed two or more energy drinks per day reported heart palpitations within 24 hours.