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Caffeine Intake and Heart Health: How Much is Too Much?

Jolt of caffeine? For most of us, daily caffeine is not harmful. In fact, it can have measurable health benefits. However, caffeine is an over-the-counter drug, just like alcohol or Tylenol. Caffeine has many positive attributes. It can reduce fatigue, increase alertness & concentration, and even improve motor skills. When added to painkiller medications, caffeine makes the drugs work more efficiently.


However, caffeine can have negative effects on the body in certain people, too. Problems such as insomnia, jitters, nervousness, dehydration and irritability can be exacerbated in sensitive patients. Patients with any history of heart rhythm or heart muscle problems can experience palpitations, skipped or racing heart beat, or even arrhythmias with caffeine stimulation.


Additionally, some medications and caffeine don’t mix well. Certain antibiotics, like Ciprofloxacin or “Cipro” can interfere with caffeine metabolism. Some medications like Theophylline, or supplements like Echinacea can cause side effects if taken with caffeine. Abruptly stopping caffeine can also have negative effects. It can lead to the classic withdrawal headache.


Caffeine typically reaches its peak effect on the brain in about 60 minutes after ingestion. Caffeine metabolism itself is dependent upon a person’s individual genes.


So, how much caffeine is ok to drink? The short response is, everyone is different. A daily caffeine intake of 200 – 300 mg is generally considered a safe amount. Caffeine derived from coffee and dark chocolate is actually considered heart healthy. Up to three cups of coffee is desirable if a person can tolerate it. More than 500 mg daily may increase your risk of negative side effects.


Some people metabolize caffeine quickly, and can nod off easily even after an evening cup of Java. Others avoid drinking caffeine in the afternoon because of the negative effects. It all depends on your genetic makeup.


At Optimal Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center, we offer a simple salivary genetic test that can help to clarify your specific caffeine tolerance, which can assist you with lifelong caffeine use.


Call our office to schedule your initial, free one-on-one interview with Dr. Feyer-Melk to discuss your heart health and wellness today 480-941-0800.

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