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British Heart Foundation
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Caffeine

I am aged 79.

On 31 July my wife took me to Kingston Hospital with chest pains-I felt as if I had been kicked in the chest by a horse!

It was 4 pm and A & E was empty. Within minutes I was in the Resuscitation Unit and over the next 5 hours had blood pressure and temperature taken, oximeter reading, xray, ECG, saline drip, blood sample, beta blocker and blood thinner tablets, oxygen nasal cannula.

They were going to keep me in overnight to see a cardiologist in the morning but in the end I was discharged at 9 pm-when A & E was packed.

Since then I have had a Myocardial Perfusion Scan at the Royal Brompton Hospital and an Angiogram at Kingston and most recently an Echo Cardiogram there.

My prescriptions have been increased to include more blood-thinners, nitrates and satins.

I now await the outcome of a joint cardiology conference with a suggestion of a single heart bypass operation at St George's Tooting.

My understanding is that the doctors' concern is over my heart-beat rate which every few seconds jumps between 60/120 a minute. The angiogram showed the left anterior descending artery as very blocked, but I only have the written report and not the image which was on the wall of the operating theatre.

My heart beat rate has been described as irregular over a period of years but an echo cardiogram in 2016 was all clear (in fact it was the same technician I recognised this last time).

Personally I put the whole thing down to my caffeine addiction. I had reduced my consumption to 2 cups a week (not a day). But the hospitals were offering me coffee and saying that I should be ok on 3 or 4 cups a day.

The diuretic effect was such that I once wet myself in the street, which of course was very embarrassing, and I constantly had to work out toilet places whenever I went out.

I actually had to change my parish church as they would never let me use the toilet saying that there was a creche going on in the next room and they didn't think it appropriate.

At night I was having palpitations almost as rapid as vibrations, and blurred vision and breathlessness and even hallucinations that there were wild animals in the house. I felt I had a blot clot as I had to lie still for hours whilst the pressure and pain built up in my chest and then suddenly it was all gone and I could get up and carry on as usual.

At the time I put it down to going to bed soon after eating and leaving the tv on. But it all came to a head with the pain on 31 July and I have not had caffeine since then-not even green tea.

I miss the buzz of course but the bad effects have gone.

I seem to be ok with hot chocolate, though I believe that may have caffeine too and it is on offer at hospitals.

The doctors have mentioned cardioversion but not stents-they seem to diagnose and recommend on test results and not what you tell them.

People I have spoken to all seem to have had heart problems worse than mine-the same medication and pacemakers and valve operations and even one quadruple bypass-and he still smokes!

So in short I would much appreciate a response on the known connection between caffeine and heart problems-would it be ok to try coffee again now I have the benefit of medication? I miss filter coffee with Coffeemate and honey in my study at home and Eros expresso when I go up to Town.

29 Replies
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You could perhaps try decaf? I'm somewhat shocked to hear that the hospital said that 3-4 cups of coffee to be "ok" to someone who thought that coffee triggered cardiac events.

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Many thanks for your kindness in taking the trouble to respond

Unfortunately decaf does not work for me but as I say I do get some consolation from hot chocolate -but it has to be Wispa

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You say that Decaf 'doesn't work' for you well it obviously does.............it's killing you.

Before I was discharged from hospital with an ICD the doctors words were 'if you must drink coffee then it has to be decaff'. I drink about 5 or 6 cups a day and never have a problem, but I once had a normal coffee by mistake and thought that I was having a Heart Attack.

I suggest that you change your lifestyle or stay as you are and suffer, it's an easy choice!!!!

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Yes Thank you for responding

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I have SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia) and caffeine is a definite no for me unless I’m actively trying to end up in resus. It might not be the first cup that got me, it might not be the second, but if I drank caffeine regularly I can guarantee that I’d end up in at some point feeling like I was dying and needing my heart stopped to reset the rhythm. Each to their own, and everyone’s different, but when I had my first episode in 2009, the admitting cardiologist told me then that my very high levels of caffeine consumption was most likely the cause, and even taking daily medication doesn’t compensate if I decide to drink the stuff - I eventually went completely caffeine free about 4 years ago and felt better for it from a cardiac standpoint. I also binned ginger, dark chocolate and some otc cough mixtures and cold remedies, as they also trigger episodes for me. It’s just not worth it; the episodes feel horrible, the treatment feels just about the same, and the 6 to 8 weeks of utter exhaustion and increased palpitations afterwards? Simply just not worth it, not for me.

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Many thanks to you too It's interesting to see that others get episodes with palpitations from caffeine and feel they are dying

My experiences developed gradually and I am still not clear whether they actually created the restriction in the artery

Alcohol is not a problem but I have very little-no more than the recommended limit of 2 units a day

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I was told not to have coffee and limit my tea drinking to 2 to 3 cups a day. I was also told by my doctors that decaf is even worse as the substitute things they put in are bad for your heart. Since doing as the Drs said...as well as having my CRT device ... I do not get palpitations.. . The jitters.... and feel much calmer... sleep better and feeling so much better. I also eat honey ( bought from a bee keeper) as this is known to protect the heart.

You seem angry that you have to change your lifestyle ... and you comment on others who you know who have worse heart problem and can carry on as a Normal ... including the man who still smokes!

I would say to this that the Nhs has carried out many tests and looked after you( at no small expense) to help you to stay alive. Surely not to drink coffee ( even though you may miss it) is no great hardship is Isurely you should be prepared to put in the effort to take care of yourself ... it's not just what the Drs can do for us.. it's about helping ourselves too. And for the man that is still smoking..... well that just beggars belief ... and although we do all have the right to choose.. If we choose unhealthy or life threatening choices.. then we should not complain if our body gives out. But unhealthy life choices is a burden on the over stretched health service. Once we are aware of our wonky hearts i do think we have a duty to ourselves, friends and family.. and the NHS, to do what we can ( make changes) to stay as healthy as we can.

..

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Totally agree, I have so much admiration for what the nhs did for me in the last six months, I have stopped smoking after 54 years of enjoying the habit, went cold turkey, now 4 months in. My husband, same 54 years just had heart attacks and he has stopped with the help of patches. It used to annoy me when I was on CCU and patients used to disappear downstairs to have their cig then come back to the ward to hook up to the heart monitor????? Life changes have to be made , I am now going to tackle the weight I have put on, I stone, it’s hard but I would love to live as long as I can with my wonderful husband. We are both 70 now .Ursula x

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That is it... (We as a society have to change) and I really do believe that the government has a role to play! (like they have with banning cigarettes).

All too often it is easy, in fact, you really after go out of your way to live a healthy life due to all the junk that is pushed.

Absolutely great, I am sure you have a lot of happy years in front of you...

All the best,

Tommy

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Hi Tommy, yeh but they haven’t banned cigarettes , it’s personal choice, wish they would ban cigs, sweets etc would help us a lot lol but cants see it happening, good luck, stay healthy, x

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I was a bit of a coffee addict before my HA, too. At cardio rehab they were very clear that caffeinated drinks weren’t good - mainly because most of us were on drugs that were getting the heart to slow down.

I moved onto decaf organic coffee beans from Waitrose a while ago now and I often use them for family and friends and I’ve never had any complaints. Good luck.

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Many thanks for your response

I have been searching for some view from the BHF -they have views on salt and alcohol for instance but nothing I can find on caffeine

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I switched to drinking hot water and it wasn’t that hard to do . It still feels like a warm comforting drink .sometimes I have just hot milk which you can get in all coffee shops . Decaf Azera is good but I think it may still effect me a little and is a bit acidic . Hope this helps

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Yes it does help! Personally I try to avoid dairy food but I agree with you on warm water

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I stopped coffee and tea eight years ago because of heart problems , I have now had an ablation which hopefully has been a success but I will not start drinking them again, in my eyes it’s not worth risking it. I would rather be well than drinking whatever.

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Many thanks for your response

I can only say I agree

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The advice I received on a cardio rehab course was crystal clear, caffeine increases your pulse rate and blood pressure, and that's a bad thing.

They said an absolute no to any of the "energy drinks" that are stuffed full of caffeine. A no to coffee. A cautious yes to black tea (one or two cups a day), and a bit more of a yes to green tea (three or four cups a day).

Their conclusion regarding warm beverages was better still, move to herbal teas or de-caff coffee.

They were also pretty severe about the two units of alcohol a day guideline. Their recommendation was teetotal is better.

But hey, you're 79 Rainmaker. I'd say make up your own mind how to live your life.

Good luck!

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many thanks to you too

But I find that the caffeine even in green tea gets me going and I make do with herbal teas to be sociable

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My cardiologist told me that caffeine helps breathing and the heart. But that’s low so don’t just take that as a reason. There’s some issue wiv ur heart.

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It sounds as if your cardiologist is a coffee drinker!

My medical report after the angio cardiogram said that there is "serial severe proximal stenosis" in the LAD and mentions MIDCAB

Stents are not mentioned

Earlier cardioversion was being mentioned for the irregular heartbeat but the cardiologist said it may not have a lasting effect

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I gave up caffeinated coffee years ago. I drink decaf and I have found Asda's to be OK. I suppose it depends on what you are used to. I used to drink Dowe Egberts caffeinated coffee but found their decaf to be a bit harsh. So I shopped around.

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My rehab team have told me that up to about 8 or 9 cups of (caf) instant coffee a day won't hurt as the caffeine is so weak. Filter coffee is much stronger but OK to have 2 or 3 a day. The only thing they suggested I avoid was the espresso, and especially a double espresso. They didn't think decaf made any appreciable difference.

From reading the previous answers, it appears that there is no standard recommendation about coffee!

I can't drink caf coffee as it gives me stomach problems, and I don't like filter coffee, so I do stick to decaf instant, but I don't drink much of it.

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Yes many thanks

BHF mention that with salt-no more than a teaspoon of added salt a day and with alcohol to follow the guidelines on units but as you say they have no guidance on caffeine

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You can't avoid caffeine altogether if you are go on to decaf. It is known that decaf tea contains roughly half the caffeine of black tea. Decaff coffee contains some caffeine although less than normal coffee and green tea also has a small amount of caffeine. Have a look at these items on the internet.

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Thanks to you too for your interest

I have looked at the internet and cannot see that there is caffeine in chocolate

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I’ve been tested wen not drinking coffee and it didn’t affect my vitals. Caffeine is a heart drug.

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I personally would stay off coffee, even decaf

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I am with you

I'm sure that you are right

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There is a small amount of caffeine in chocolate, about 25 milligrams in a dark chocolate bar. The darker the chocolate the more it caffeine it contains.

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