Caffeine consumption from coffee and atrial fibrillation

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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and involves the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. People with atrial fibrillation usually have a significantly increased risk of stroke.

To date, research suggests that there is no association between coffee consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation, with a suggestion that habitual coffee consumption may in fact reduce the risk.

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  • A meta-analysis with 228,465 participants concluded that caffeine exposure was weakly associated with a reduced risk of AF. A dose response analysis suggested that the incidence of AF decreased by 6% for every 300 mg/d increment in habitual caffeine intake. The authors concluded that it is unlikely that caffeine consumption causes or contributes to AF and that habitual caffeine consumption might reduce AF risk24.
  • Three further meta-analyses have concluded that caffeine consumption is not associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, and in fact may have a protective effect25,26,27.
  • A prospective cohort study evaluated the effect of caffeine consumption on atrial fibrillation in women. The participant population, 33,638 women from the Women’s Health Study, had an average follow up of 14.4 years and in this period there were 945 cases of incident atrial fibrillation. In this study, caffeine consumption was not associated with an increased risk of incident atrial fibrillation. In this population, on average 81% of the caffeine came from coffee28.

An earlier prospective study among 47,949 participants in Denmark looked at the association between daily caffeine consumption from coffee, tea, cola, cocoa and chocolate and increased risk of atrial fibrillation. Over the 6 year follow up period, 373 men and 182 women developed atrial fibrillation or flutter. The authors found no association between caffeine consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation. The main source of caffeine in this study was coffee29.

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