Caffeine Is Not the Culprit

Published Online: Saturday, February 1, 2003

It has long been thought that drinking caffeine-laden beverages like coffee raises blood pressure. A study in the Novem-ber 2002 issue of Circulation, however, reports that drinking even decaf coffee can raise the blood pressure of people who are not regular coffee drinkers. That suggests that there may be some ?mystery ingredient? in coffee of any sort that is responsible for elevated blood pressure.

The study also found that habitual coffee drinkers?regular or decaf?showed an increase in the sympathetic nervous system activity that can cause hypertension, but that they did not have elevated blood pressure. According to the researchers, that indicates that many people develop a tolerance for whatever it is in coffee that can lead to hypertension.

Coffee drinkers who do not have a family history of hypertension are probably not going to increase their chances of cardiovascular disease by continuing to drink it. On the other hand, the report concludes that ?occasional coffee drinking seems to have an important cardiovascular stimula-tory effect and can acutely increase blood pressure.?

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