Good news for coffee drinkers - caffeine consumption is better for your health than previously thought
Researchers have found that, contrary to prior belief, caffeine does not cause health-threatening heart palpitations
A new study has found that drinking coffee regularly does not lead to extra heartbeats - contrary to earlier studies that warned caffeine consumption could cause interruption to regular cardiac rhythms.
The study, carried out by researchers at the University of California-San Francisco, is the largest ever to assess the relationship between dietary patterns and extra heartbeats.
Research lead Dr Gregory Marcus said: "Clinical recommendations advising against the regular consumption of caffeinated products to prevent disturbances of the heart's cardiac rhythm should be reconsidered, as we may unnecessarily be discouraging consumption of items like chocolate, coffee and tea that might actually have cardiovascular benefits."
"Given our recent work demonstrating that extra heartbeats can be dangerous, this finding is especially relevant."
The research team studied 1,388 people, with an average age of 72. About 60 per cent of them drank some sort of caffeinated product every day.
Measuring for instances of premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), which start in the lower chambers of the heart, and premature atrial contractions (PACs), starting in the upper chambers of the heart, researchers found no evidence that caffeine consumption caused them to occur more often.
PACs have been shown to result in atrial fibrillation, stroke and death, and PVCs are associated with increased heart failure, coronary artery disease and death.
Previous studies have linked both types of contractions to caffeine consumption - but researchers say these studies were conducted many decades ago, did not use PACs or PVCs as a primary outcome, and examined patients with known arrhythmias.
"Coffee is among the most commonly consumed beverages in the United States and is the main source of caffeine intake among adults" said the report, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
"Regular coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and other cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and depression."
"Furthermore, large observational studies have found that habitual coffee drinkers have lower rates of coronary artery disease and of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality."