Coffee myths: caffeine does not cause atrial fibrillation

München ( – People who rarely drink coffee or are sensitive to caffeine often feel doped after drinking a cup. Elevated blood pressure and a racing pulse are possible consequences. But can coffee also bring the heart out of sync? No, according to a comprehensive metastudy by Chinese scientists.

Heart in time with lots of coffee
In 1.9 percent of all participants there were indications of imminent atrial fibrillation. However, the scientists found no connection between caffeine intake and atrial fibrillation. On the contrary, those who drank a lot of coffee had a ten percent lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation. If possible disruptive factors were deducted during the study, the risk of heart complaints already decreased by 11 percent with a low caffeine intake and even by 16 percent with a high caffeine intake.

Please do not drink coffee coma
Nevertheless, Gu and his colleagues advise against pumping as much caffeine as possible into the body. Other studies argue that „more caffeine“ means „more health“. For example, there are reports of heart problems in adolescents after excessive coffee consumption.

Mechanism remains a mystery
However, experts do not yet know why coffee reduces the risk of cardiac arrhythmia. In the liver, caffeine ensures that less connective tissue is deposited. The researchers suspect that a similar mechanism might also exist in the heart. The increased deposition of connective tissue (fibrosis) is one of the main causes of cardiac arrhythmias.

The study coincides with the results of an earlier meta-analysis published by Portuguese scientists in 2013. The study involved 116,000 subjects. The myth that caffeine causes atrial fibrillation can therefore be finally cleared up. (ab)

Sources: Gu et al.: Caffeine intake and atrial fibrillation incidence: Dose response Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies, Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 2014 

Caldeira et al., Caffeine does not increase the risk of atrial fibrillation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies, Heart, 2013

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