Millions of people can’t start their day without a good cup of coffee, and it’s no surprise. The caffeine in coffee gives you 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.
Does Caffeine Affect Blood Pressure?
Caffeine causes a temporary increase in blood pressure because of its brief vasoconstrictive effect. This means that when caffeine is consumed, blood vessels become constricted (narrowed), and blood pressure increases for a period of time.
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.
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 will usually return to normal after 3-4 hours.
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.
How long does caffeine raise my blood pressure?
Caffeine kicks in quickly and can have an impact on blood pressure almost right away. Within 30 minutes to an hour, you could notice changes in your blood pressure after ingesting caffeine. Usually, normal blood pressure levels will return after a few hours of not having caffeine.
Curious if caffeinated beverages are affecting your blood pressure levels? Check your blood pressure before you drink caffeine to get a base number and then check it again 30-90 minutes later.Having a blood pressure number increase by even 5-10 points can indicate that caffeine has an impact on your blood pressure levels. However, blood pressure only causes health issues when it remains consistently high over many weeks, so a temporary minor increase in blood pressure will typically not cause any health risks if your blood pressure is generally normal.
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
- DiarrheaGERD or acid reflux
- Palpitations or a racing heart
It’s best to minimize or 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 consumptionLong-time coffee drinkers may experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and irritability if they stop caffeine consumption abruptly.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
Adults who drink caffeine should aim not to exceed 400 mg. This would amount to approximately four cups of coffee, which is generally plenty for the average adult. Having slightly more than this shouldn’t cause any problems, but drinking an excess of 1,200 mg of caffeine can result in severe side effects including seizures.
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 may delay the onset of diabetes, though larger studies are needed to confirm this.
- Maca: This plant is thought 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 may sharpen your mind and keep you alert, making it a great alternative to caffeine. However, ginseng can cause side effects and exacerbate chronic health conditions, so speak with your health care provider before use.
- 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 may help to reduce inflammation and upset stomach.
When to See a Healthcare Provider
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.
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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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