Caffeine is thought to be a good source of energy, helping the brain stay alert and focused. No wonder why it's one of the most consumed drugs in the entire world.
However, a new research suggests the benefits extend beyond just the mind. It turns out caffeine may not be harmful to the heart as previously thought and it might even be good for it.
There's an assumption that coffee causes harmful effects to the heart, and many doctors advise patients with abnormal heart rhythms to avoid caffeine consumption. For most of them, however, caffeine may sometimes reduce the frequency of arrhythmias, according to the researchers.
"Although coffee increases your heart rate, it does not make it abnormal," said senior researcher Dr. Peter Kistler. "We found that there are no detrimental effects of coffee on heart rhythm and, in fact, coffee at up to three cups per day may be protective."
Don't Binge-Drink Coffee, Though
Still, Kistler said that people who develop heart palpitations after drinking caffeine should still avoid it. Around 9 percent of U.S. residents older than 65 have atrial fibrillation.
"Some patients find that coffee is a clear trigger of their arrhythmias, and they should still be cautious," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised.
Kistler and his colleagues analyzed eight previously published studies to build a grand picture, which looked into the relationship between caffeine consumption and arrhythmias. They found that among nearly 230,000 participants, coffee consumption decreased the frequency of atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder, by 6 percent. A deeper analysis of almost 116,000 participants yielded an even better decrease of 13 percent.
The researchers don't think caffeine causes most abnormal rhythms, so they should be fine. In fact, regular coffee consumption protects patients from atrial fibrillation. Based on data pulled from animal trials, however, they're putting a cap on maximum caffeine intake at 300 mg per day, which is roughly equivalent to three cups.
Energy Drinks Aren't As Beneficial For Heart Health As Coffee And Tea Are
Researchers also said that although caffeine and tea might be good for the heart, the same can't be said for energy drinks as these also contain caffeine but are riskier on one's heart health. Many studies in the past yielded similar conclusions about energy drinks: they could potentially cause life-threatening heart rhythms and blood clots.
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents should not consume energy drinks, yet CDC said that 30 to 50 percent of them do.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.