Should Heart Failure Patients Limit Caffeine Intake?

Stress test didn't show short-term changes after coffee drinking
Stress test didn't show short-term changes after coffee drinking

HealthDay News — Caffeine doesn't appear to increase the risk of arrhythmias in patients with heart failure, according to research published online October 17 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study included 51 patients with heart failure. The researchers randomly assigned them to two groups. One group was given decaffeinated coffee that contained 100mg of caffeine powder. The other group received decaffeinated coffee with a milk powder. Patients drank the beverages at one-hour intervals during a five-hour period. Those given caffeine received a total of 500mg. The study also included a treadmill stress test one hour after the last cup of coffee.  

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The team found no link between caffeine and abnormal heartbeats in the short term. "In fact, our results challenge the perception that patients with heart disease and at risk for arrhythmias should avoid or limit caffeine intake," lead researcher Luis Rohde, MD, ScD, from the division of cardiology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil, told HealthDay.

Although no effect of caffeine on heart rhythms was seen, the researchers pointed out that the study was small. About half of the study volunteers were regular coffee drinkers, so they might have been less prone to the effects of caffeine. The study also didn't look at long-term use of caffeine and its effect on abnormal heart rhythms among patients with heart failure.

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