Juan Valdez and Starbucks Would Smile

Published Online: Monday, April 1, 2002

For more than 60 years researchers have postulated a link between coffee drinking and an increase in blood pressure. Now the results are in. The answer: Drink up!

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have just announced the results of a 33-year study designed to detect whether there is a link between coffee and increased blood pressure (Archives of Internal Medicine, March 25, 2002). The study tracked over 1,000 white men who graduated from Hopkins between 1948 and 1964. Some 87% of them were coffee drinkers, and the median amount consumed each day was 2 cups.

The study found that drinking at least 1 cup of caffeinated coffee a day may cause a short-term spike in blood pressure, but there was no indication that drinking coffee raised the risk of developing hypertension. According to the researchers, ?after 4 or 5 days of drinking coffee, the effect on heart rate and blood pressure gets smaller,? indicating that the body?s cardiovascular system has the ability to adapt to coffee consumption. However, the effect does not go away entirely.

Although coffee consumption may not contribute to the development of hypertension, the study supports the findings of other research indicating that people who already have high blood pressure may be better off abstaining. ?I advise patients to give up coffee and other caffeinated beverages for 2 weeks or so to see if it helps,? said Dr. Michael J. Klag, lead author of the study.

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