Roughly 80% of adults in the United States consume some form of caffeine every day. Be it in coffee, tea, or an energy drink, caffeine is a regular part of the American diet, but how does this constant caffeine consumption affect our health?
Benefits of Caffeine:
Caffeine is a specific class of drug known as a stimulant, meaning it increases the activity of the central nervous system, making a person feel more awake, confident, or energetic. This is usually the effect that people who drink caffeine are looking for in their daily beverage.
Because caffeine stimulates the nervous system, there are several reversible effects caffeine has on the heart. After caffeine consumption, a person’s heart rate and blood pressure will increase, though this will wear off after a few hours. If a person consumes caffeine regularly, they will eventually become accustomed to the compound’s effects and may notice their body react less dramatically to the same dosage.
Though caffeine may cause some unpleasant side effects, like anxiety, rapid heartbeat, or paranoia, these effects will wear off relatively quickly, depending on the individual, and scientists consider that the general population can consume up to 600mg of caffeine, or 6 cups of coffee each day, without ill effects.
Negative Effects of Caffeine:
Though caffeine is considered safe for every day consumption, there is an abundance of other research evaluating caffeine’s long-term effects. Specifically, scientists have conducted several studies observing participants health outcomes over several years to determine whether habitual caffeine drinkers, compared to non-caffeine drinkers, have a greater likelihood of certain heart conditions, including cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, heart attack, arrhythmia, heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, or high blood pressure.
Because caffeine increases heart rate and blood flow in the short-term, there is reason to believe that consistent caffeine consumption might harm a person’s health in the future. A recent meta-analysis, however, which summarized over 310 credible scientific articles examining these associations over time, found that moderate caffeine intake (400-600mg/day or 4 to 6 cups of coffee per day) is not associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, arrhythmia, heart failure, blood pressure changes, or hypertension in baseline healthy populations. Further, this study found that moderate caffeine consumption might even protect an individual against cardiovascular disease in the long-term.
Though daily moderate caffeine consumption does not have a long-term cardiovascular health effect on healthy populations, people with a history of high blood pressure or at risk for high blood pressure may be more sensitive to caffeine’s effects and see an increase in their blood pressure after years of consumption.
Though you might be worried about what effect your daily cup of coffee will have on your heart health 30 years in the future, fear not! Considering the vast amount of credible research published in the field, moderate caffeine consumption, in healthy populations, does not have any significant health consequences, even after several years. Feel content to enjoy your morning dose of caffeine in peace.