Is caffeine the cause?? : I recently... - British Heart Fou...

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Is caffeine the cause??

Cat1108 profile image

I recently posted about my every so often erratic heart rate. I had bloods done and all is completly fine. They are organising for me to have a heart monitor for 24 hours, but whilst on the phone the doctor mentioned a few things things could cause my erratic heart rate... Smoking (I don't smoke) alcohol (I have 1 or 2 gins at a weekend sometimes none), walking (I do alot of walking as I have a dog) and caffeine... When he said this I told him I never have a cup of tea out my hand... I seriously must drink about 10-15 brews a day... Always have. Could this now be causing me problems? I actually can't go a few hours without needing a brew.

15 Replies

Short answer, yes. Caffeine can and does increase heart rate. It can also increase the number of ectopic beats someone has, which for some individuals with arrhythmias like SVT and atrial fibrillation can then trigger episodes. I’m not suggesting you have either of these, just telling you that caffeine’s ability to cause problems for some people is medically established fact. I used to drink loads of caffeine without it keeping me awake of causing problems, but it turns out my heart/central nervous system is quite sensitive to it, and it became a frequent culprit for increased hr, palpitations, and subsequent bouts of SVT. The cardiologist that saw me in A&E after my first ever bout declared my caffeine intake to be the root cause of developing SVT - on reflection, I don’t know how likely that is given there are other factors in my health and lifestyle at that time which are also known factors, but I can tell you drinking caffeine does me no favours. I carried on with reduced caffeine for 6 years, but stopped completely 5 years ago and now notice an immediate effect if I have even a very weak coffee or a couple of mouthfuls of caffeinated pop.

I’ve just looked at your first post mid writing, and while others mentioned AF, it’s entirely possible - perhaps even more likely given your age - that you experienced a bout of SVT. Bending forward can cause additional ectopic beats (a usually harmless, extremely common premature beat) just like caffeine can, which triggers a sudden increase in heart rate that gets ‘stuck’. Episodes of SVT can often be self-limiting, meaning they end on their own, and although unpleasant, it’s not considered a dangerous arrhythmia to have. It does benefit from medication, though, or other treatments if episodes are frequent and/or prolonged, and even with a diagnosis you should always attend A&E for episodes that last more than 30 minutes, or if accompanied by any chest pain or generally feeling very unwell. The only issue with SVT as a theory is that a 24 hour monitor may not be useful for picking it up. My advice would be that if it happens again, try and get to A&E so they can ‘catch it’ on an ecg - you won’t be wasting anyone’s time, and often the only way to diagnose arrhythmia is to record it on equipment. That’s fine if it’s a frequent occurrence, but more tricky if it’s only occasional! If, and I stress the if, it turns out you have SVT, there are a number of other substances and lifestyle factors beyond the 4 the consultant mentioned to you that are medically known to increase the frequency of ectopics, and ectopics are the confirmed trigger for SVT. We know that cutting them out/making changes unfortunately won’t work for everyone, but they do work for some: in my own case, by dropping caffeine, dark chocolate, certain medicines, and making sure I get enough sleep, alongside taking medication to slow my hr, my ectopics have reduced from hundreds a day to about a dozen, and I haven’t had a single bout of SVT in the last 6 years as a result. Prior to making those changes, even with medication, I was having 2 or 3 prolonged episodes of SVT a month on average, sometimes a week.

From experience, detoxing from caffeine can be rather unpleasant - there can be genuine, physical withdrawals for several days including bad headaches, sweats, irritability etc. - but it was worth it for me.

Just drink decaf or red bush

a. I'd worry about your tea (caffeine) addiction

b. 10-15 cups/day is definitely excessive, I urge that you change to 'green' tea, and consciously try to cut back (to say, six cups of green tea a day, an amount generally known to have notable health benefits and may be less triggering for you); changing a habit is easier if you can find a substitute, eg.such as sipping cold water perhaps livened up with a squirt of lemon juice

~wbic, member bhf forum

Charlie_G profile image
Charlie_G in reply to wbiC

Unless you opt for decaf green tea, unfortunately caffeine is caffeine regardless of source. There is also an argument that decaf green tea lacks quite a few of the benefits of caffeinated due to the processing involved. But the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you drink one cup of green tea or a pint of coffee: if you’re someone for whom caffeine effects the frequency of ectopics, the end result is you will have more of them whichever one you choose to drink.

Hi Cat, change to a decaf, there are loads out there now that are made by the same manufacturers as standard teas, There is no taste difference between the standard tea and the decaf equivalent but you should feel better.

I weaned myself of caffeine, having decaf coffee and tea and it works a treat. Has reduced my arrhythmia considerably. Still missing the pick-me-up effect of it, though, specifically after lunch....

Ive always drunk tons of tea - now I've had to switch to - ginger cut in chunks and heated up then left in thermos to soak - drinking periodically throughout day - ginger has a kick to it - also drink roibosh - and like lemon balm herb brewed in pot (helps me relax) .

Giving up caffeine entirely including decaf brought my BP crashing down and is now stable with meds. Nowadays I enjoy the very rare cup of decaf but guess what? Two months of no caffeine and I have lost the taste for it, don't even like it anymore.

I can’t drink coffee at all and if I have more than 2 cups of tea in a day, it sets off symptoms so if I were you I would definitely try and cut down or even cut out caffeine and see if it makes a difference

I used to drink at least that many cups ( and I use a one pint mug, other buckets are available !). I switched to decaf and that has cut what for me was an addictive factor . I now have two big mugs first thing , one lunchtime, one 3pm . Two in the evening . Still 6 but I really was drinking about 20. In between I drink water and the odd cup of black decaf coffee . I have always drunk a lot ( no, not undiagnosed or even diagnosed diabetes). I find that having a timetable to my tea drinking stops consumption creeping up but cutting the caffeine was the key

Thank you everybody for the comments. I'm going to start having decaf tea. I get very bad headaches if I don't have a drink in the morning. I also use tea as a way to curve hunger when Im busy with work (which I know is wrong). If it happens again I will be sure to ring foe an ambulance in hope they can catch it why its happening.

Hi Yes I, like you, was drinking many many cups of tea and coffee and the difference when I stopped was really noticeable so I would personally recommend you do the same. It took several days of feeling like I had a hangover and I had headaches from hell but it was so worth it. I wouldn't go back now. The de caff tea and coffee replacements are really good nowadays too.

I'm also a big tea drinker- I drink nothing else. I used to drink coffee and switched to de caf but when I suddenly started to hate coffee it simply never occurred to me to switch the tea which I will start to do right away. Hope Tetley do a decaf.

gladliz profile image
gladliz in reply to Qualipop

Yes Tetley do do a decaff. I prefer Twinnings Earl Grey decaf if just making a cup for myself but my partner and I use one Tetley and one Earl Grey decaffs when making a pot. We even ask for that mix of we go to a cafe, get some strange looks but who cares. 😊

Thanks- will alter my shopping list LOL

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