18/04/2018 13:40 SAST | Updated 18/04/2018 13:40 SAST

Coffee Consumption Could Actually Help An Irregular Heartbeat

Contrary to what you might have heard...

Contrary to what you might have heard, or is indeed prescribed by many clinicians, coffee could actually help those with an irregular heartbeat.

In a new study by professor Peter Kistler and his team at the Alfred Hospital, part of the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, it was found that there is often a misconception about the affect caffeine can have on those suffering from atrial fibrillation.

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By looking at population-based studies, the team examined a link between those who consumed caffeine and its possible effects on someone suffering from an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

What they found was rather surprising. In a study containing 228,465 participants, they noticed a 6 percent drop in the frequency of atrial fibrillation among those who called themselves regular coffee drinkers.

That percentage increased even more to 13 percent in another study of 115,993 participants.

"Many doctors recommend patients with atrial or ventricular arrhythmias avoid caffeinated beverages – particularly coffee. However, our extensive review of medical literature suggests this is unfounded," Kistler said.

"Large-scale studies suggest coffee and tea are safe, and some caffeinated beverages may even have long-term anti-arrhythmic properties – suppressing abnormal rhythms of the heart.

"Patients who regularly consume coffee and tea at moderate levels may even have a lower lifetime risk of developing heart rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation."

Regular consumption of around 300mg per day (a single cup is around 95g) is considered well within tolerable limits, according to Kistler.

That being said, he did want to make it clear that not everyone will experience the same benefits as others, and there will be some individual cases where avoidance is still very necessary.

"Energy drinks contain caffeine at much higher concentrations than tea or coffee, and can include other compounds, which can trigger arrhythmias. They are still best avoided by patients with pre-existing heart conditions," he added.