Caffeine’s Effects on Propagating Arrhythmias

Karl Larson



Caffeine, for various reasons, has often been associated and even blamed for certain conditions and problems. In particular, caffeine is commonly associated by doctors with cardiac arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation because of its vasodilation and stimulant properties, among other effects. Belief that these properties incite and even worsen the heart conditions has prompted doctors to advise patients to refrain from caffeine consumption. This is difficult considering the wide use of the chemical throughout the beverage world. A common additive, caffeine is found in everything from coffee to sodas, with a wide range of concentrations. To completely abstain from the drug would require large amounts of patience, knowledge of what is safe to drink, and self-control.

However, there is a debate over whether this is actually necessary. Some research and doctors have come forward, questioning the restriction of the chemical and the presuppositions behind the restriction. Those questions have in turn led to a multi-sided debate on caffeine and how it affects heart conditions, specifically, cardiac arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation. In order to come to a conclusion, I reviewed different literature about the subject including a variety of studies. I used the different epidemiological, human, animal, and population studies and reports to determine one of four things: caffeine is an arrhythmogenic, caffeine is not an arrhythmogenic, caffeine inhibits arrhythmias, or there is not enough research. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that there was insufficient reliable research to make any sound conclusion. Caffeine should be taken with caution or avoided entirely by those at-risk for arrhythmias. There is a lack of coordinated research on all sides for all the studies, including epidemiological, human, and population. Conducting research in a coherent manner should bring forward more reliable and consistent results, allowing a strong conclusion to be made.


Arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation

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