A new study has found that drinking coffee apparently does not raise the risk of atrial fibrillation, which is one form of an irregular heartbeat. However, this finding is tentative and does not mean drinking coffee is not associated with other types of irregular heartbeat.
The study included more than 76,000 people in Sweden who were enrolled in the Cohort of Swedish men or the Swedish Mammography Cohort. These participants reported their coffee consumption in 1997 and were then followed for 12 years. Their average coffee consumption was three cups a day. The incidence of atrial fibrillation in this group was determined by cross-checking with a Swedish record of hospital discharges. The researchers also reviewed and analyzed data from four previous studies that followed nearly 250,000 people for up to 12 years. Those four studies were conducted either in Sweden or the United States.
The study found no link between drinking coffee and atrial fibrillation. That was true even among for participants who drank the most coffee.
The researchers suggested that more research should be done confirming that there is no relationship between atrial fibrillation and coffee drinking.
"This is the largest prospective study to date on the association between coffee consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation. We find no evidence that high consumption of coffee increases the risk of atrial fibrillation," study lead author Susanna Larsson said in press statement. Larsson is with the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.
Atrial fibrillation is one form of an irregular heartbeat. It occurs when the two upper chambers of the heart, the atria, beat out of rhythm with each other, and with the two lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles. The irregular beat may be momentary or last for some time and require treatment. Atrial fibrillation significantly increases a person's risk of stroke, heart failure and death.
The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine and can be read here.