Considering almost two-thirds of Americans regularly drink coffee, it’s safe to say it’s a popular beverage. However, it’s gotten a reputation over the years for making you jittery and potentially affecting your heart in the process. So, what does science say? It turns out that this long-standing coffee myth may be busted.
In research recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco wanted to see the connection between coffee consumption and heart arrhythmias. Heart arrhythmias happen when the electrical currents that run through your cardiovascular system malfunction, causing your heart to contract at irregular intervals or too quickly or slowly. While some may not affect your daily life whatsoever, others can cause a number of problems, ranging from chest pain and shortness of breath to stroke and heart failure.
For the study, scientists looked at data from over 386,000 participants, the majority of whom were female, between 2006 and 2018. Subjects self-reported their coffee consumption over time, and researchers took into account any heart ailments over that 12-year period. Lifestyle choices (such as alcohol intake and smoking habits) and genetic predispositions to heart problems were also considered when looking at possible connections between the two.
Overall, the study’s team discovered that there’s no evidence that coffee increases your risk of developing heart arrhythmias or exacerbating existing ones if you’re a moderate coffee drinker, which is around three cups per day. In fact, participants who consumed higher amounts of coffee saw a decrease in their likelihood of developing a heart arrhythmia by three percent. “Our population-based study provides reassurance that common prohibitions against caffeine to reduce arrhythmia risk are likely unwarranted,” explained author Gregory Marcus, MD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at UCSF.
Researchers say that their experiment does have some drawbacks given that much of the data was self-reported and didn’t specify the type of coffee. However, it’s great to know that your morning cup o’ Joe likely won’t directly cause heart rhythm problems for you down the line!