A study debunks a common misconception: drinking coffee daily does not increase the risk of developing cardiac arrhythmia, a disturbance of the heart's normal rhythm.

No, coffee does not interfere with heart rate

If coffee owes part of its success to its stimulating properties, is it in this case dangerous for the heartbeat? Indeed, some consumers report palpitations or abnormal heart rhythms after taking this "stimulant". But a new study on the subject is reassuring and underlines that in the majority of cases, there is no relationship between the occurrence of arrhythmia attacks and coffee intake. Published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the study shows that most people can enjoy their morning coffee without worrying because caffeine does not seem to increase the risk of arrhythmia in most consumers.

"We don't see any evidence for this blanket recommendation to avoid coffee," says study co-author Dr. Gregory Marcus of the University of California, San Francisco. "There could be individuals for whom caffeine is a trigger, but I think there is growing evidence to say that those cases are actually quite rare." The scientific team even found that every extra cup of coffee a person drinks daily could reduce their risk of arrhythmia by about 3% on average. "There may be some people for whom caffeine or coffee can actually help reduce their risk," he adds.

What is the relationship between caffeine and heart health?

To determine whether caffeine really can cause a faster heart rate or abnormal heartbeat, researchers analyzed data from more than 386,000 people in a long-term British health study, who were asked about their coffee consumption, among other things. Of these, about 17,000 developed a heart rhythm problem during an average follow-up of 4.5 years. The result: there was no link between caffeine consumption and the occurrence of heart rhythm problems, even when the researchers took into account genetic factors that could influence the way individuals metabolize caffeine.

"We could find no population-level evidence that those who consumed more coffee or those who were exposed to more caffeine had an increased risk of arrhythmia. The results of the study show that there is an unfounded dogma that coffee can cause arrhythmias," the researchers added. The researchers are more mixed about their finding on the potential protective benefits of coffee, however, since the effect was very small: while coffee may not cause arrhythmias, it does not protect against them either. Most importantly, more studies are needed to determine how it affects the heart.

One hypothesis is that coffee has anti-inflammatory effects, and it is well known that inflammation contributes to heart rhythm problems. It may also be that caffeine encourages some people to be more active, with physical activity reducing the risk of arrhythmia. "We are probably not fully aware of the mechanisms that may be relevant to the relationship between caffeine and heart health," the scientific team notes. This encourages experimentation with the drink, although the researchers caution that some people do not respond well to coffee, and their concerns should continue to be taken seriously. It is then a question of a personalized discussion between the patient and his doctor.