You wake up and brew yourself a pot of coffee. As you sit to read the morning news, you start sipping, getting ready to start the day. Later in the afternoon, you feel the post-lunch slump, so you drive to the nearest coffee shop for a pick-me-up espresso or latte. But have you ever wondered how the caffeine in all this coffee affects your body — more specifically, your heart? Let’s break it down.
What Happens to the Heart When You Consume Caffeine?
Once you take that first sip of coffee, the caffeine enters your blood from the stomach and small intestine and begins to stimulate your central nervous system. The receptors in the cells within your heart are stimulated by the caffeine and increases your heart rate.
As your heart beats faster — accelerating by about three beats per minute — your blood flow speeds up, too. The increase in your heart rate from caffeine can take effect in as soon as 15 minutes and take approximately six hours to wear off.
How Much Is Too Much Caffeine?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is generally safe for most people. That’s about the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of soda or two energy shot drinks.
Doses of 500 milligrams or more can cause caffeine intoxication. Symptoms of caffeine intoxication can include:
- Bowel irritability
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased gastric acid
- Panic attacks
Fortunately, there are no long-lasting consequences to caffeine toxicity as the symptoms wear off as soon as the caffeine leaves the system.
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure or mental health, try limiting your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams a day (or two cups of brewed coffee).
Tips for Lowering Your Caffeine Intake
If you plan on lowering the amount of caffeine you consume, make sure to do so gradually over several days to a week to avoid withdrawal symptoms like headaches or brain fog.
Whether you’ve tried reducing your coffee intake and still feel heart palpitations when you have your morning cup of coffee or feel overwhelmed and jittery after that post-lunch shot of espresso, here are a few ways you can swap your favorite caffeinated drink for something caffeine-free:
- Switch one cup a day to decaf coffee
- Try caffeine-free herbal teas
- Swap the soft drink or energy drink for sparkling water
Here to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Whether you’re worried about the amount of caffeine you consume impacting your heart health or are experiencing other concerning symptoms, our compassionate heart experts want to keep your heart beating strong. Start here to find a cardiologist in your community who can help you feel whole in mind, body and spirit.