Q. What was previously known about the relationship between coffee consumption, arrhythmias and general heart health?
Coffee is known to be a stimulant and commonly perceived harmful if you have cardiovascular conditions, particularly arrhythmia. Many physicians still advise our patients to avoid coffee intake if they have preexisting conditions. However, these beliefs are not based on a solid scientific evidence. It has been shown that caffeine has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Multiple studies hence reported the potential benefit of coffee with multiple chronic medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain type of cancers as well as all-cause mortality. Physician Health Study evaluated the coffee consumption and incident atrial fibrillation (AF) and showed lower risk of AF among men who reported coffee consumption of 1 to 3 cups a day (https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.118.011346).
Q. Could you tell us a little about the aims and design of your study?
This is a large, population-based, prospective cohort study that involved over 500,000 participants. Each participant had the assessment questionnaire where they report their daily coffee intake and their inpatient and/or outpatient records were available to ascertain their preexisting and incident heath conditions. We sought to investigate the incident arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation/flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia, premature atrial or ventricular ectopies) among participants.
Q. What were the major findings of the study?
In this large population-based prospective cohort study, moderate habitual coffee drinking was associated with a lower risk of incident arrhythmia.
Q. On the basis of these findings, what advice should health care providers give to patients with arrhythmias?
We believe our patients should be reassured that coffee drinking, at least, does not increase the risk of arrhythmia and that the they should not be discouraged from potential health benefits of caffeine.
Q. What further studies are planned?
Next step would be to study this in a randomized controlled fashion to truly assess the benefit of caffeine.
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Published: 19 May 2020