Millions of people can’t start their day without a good cup of coffee, and it’s no surprise.
The caffeine in coffee gives them an extra bounce in their step, and starting your day with a ritual that you’re used to can help you get in the swing of things.
But are there any drawbacks to your favorite morning pick-me-up?
While caffeine has its benefits, there are also some concerns about its link to hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Many people have wondered whether caffeine can raise blood pressure or worsen hypertension.
This guide will answer all your questions.
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension, another word for high blood pressure, is a common condition in which blood pressure is consistently higher than normal.
Blood pressure is the force of your blood against artery walls as it flows through your body.
This pressure depends on the amount of blood the heart pumps and the resistance to blood flow in the arteries.
If your arteries are narrow or stiff, there will be greater resistance to blood flow, and you’ll experience higher blood pressure.
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers.
The first number is systolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
The second number is the diastolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.
According to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure ranges from 90/60mmHg-120/80mmHg.
So, blood pressure readings lower than 90/60mmHg are considered low blood pressure, and those 130/80mmHg and above would be thought of as high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is consistently high over a period of time, your doctor might diagnose you with hypertension.
Having high blood pressure makes your heart work harder.
It puts you at risk for things like stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.
People don’t always show symptoms of hypertension (such as dizziness, palpitations, severe headaches, and vision problems), which makes it more dangerous.
That’s why it’s important to check your blood pressure regularly.
Why Does Caffeine Raise Blood Pressure?
Caffeine causes an increase in blood pressure because of its brief vasoconstrictive effect.
This means that when caffeine is consumed, the arteries become constricted (narrowed), and blood pressure increases for a period of time.
Most people experience a spike in their blood pressure within 30 minutes to an hour of consuming caffeinated beverages.
The change in blood pressure is temporary, and it will usually return to normal after 3-4 hours.
Caffeine also raises blood pressure by triggering your adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline.
Adrenaline causes your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow, which leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Caffeine and hypertension
Although caffeine causes a temporary increase in blood pressure, studies have shown that moderate caffeine intake is safe for people with hypertension and that regularly consuming coffee and other caffeinated beverages does not put non-hypertensive people at risk for hypertension.
Research shows that consuming 2-4 cups of coffee (200-300mg of caffeine) produces a mean increase of 8.1mmHg in systolic blood pressure and 5.7mmHg in diastolic blood pressure.
The changes in blood pressure are temporary, and everything returns to normal in 3-4 hours.
Still, if you have a history of hypertension or irregular heartbeats, it is wise to watch your overall caffeine intake.
Potential Long-Term Side Effects of Caffeine
Consuming caffeine in low to moderate doses (1-3 cups of coffee daily) does not appear to have any serious long-term side effects.
However, long-term intake of more than 600mg per day of caffeine may lead to:
When to stop using caffeine
If you experience any of these symptoms, it might be time to skip your morning coffee—and you might want to skip your midday cup, as well:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Shakiness or muscle tremors
- Diarrhea, loose stools, and/or incontinence
- GERD or acid reflux
It’s best to avoid coffee, energy drinks, and other caffeinated beverages if you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or taking some medications that might interact with caffeine (including certain antibiotics, antidepressants, or asthma medications).
Caffeine has also been linked to increased levels of anxiety, so if you have anxiety, reduce your intake of coffee and other caffeinated beverages.
We recommend slowly weaning yourself off caffeine — with the guidance of a doctor or health care provider — especially if you have a habit of caffeine consumption.
Long-time coffee drinkers may experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and irritability if they stop caffeine consumption abruptly.
Alternatives to Caffeine
If you find yourself unable to function without caffeine, you might be dependent on it.
Thankfully, you can still get an energy boost or a gentle wake-up from using caffeine alternatives.
Here are some alternatives you can try:
- Chicory root “coffee”: While it won’t give you an energy boost, chicory root coffee tastes similar to regular coffee and it can be the distraction you need from caffeine. It also improves bowel movement and delays the onset of diabetes.
- Maca: This plant is known to enhance mental focus. You can add a few scoops of maca to your smoothies.
- Ginseng tea: Not only does ginseng replenish your energy, it also sharpens your mind and keeps you alert, making it a great alternative to caffeine.
- Peppermint tea: This refreshing tea can boost your energy in the morning, getting you all set to face your day .
- Golden milk: This Indian beverage is made from turmeric and non-dairy milk combined with aromatic spices like cinnamon and ginger. A warm soothing cup of golden milk not only tastes great, but also helps to reduce inflammation and upset stomach.
When to See a Doctor
Caffeine overdose is rare, but if you feel like you’ve had too much caffeine, here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Panic attack
Talk to your doctor or health care providers if you experience any of these symptoms after taking caffeine.
How K Health Can Help
Getting help and advice for your caffeine concerns has never been easier. Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?
Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed, text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
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