Even if you consider yourself a morning person, the day doesn’t really begin until you’ve had your first cup of coffee. There’s something about the aroma of rich, roasted coffee that wakes you up and that kick of caffeine doesn’t hurt either. In fact, coffee is the most popular form of caffeine in the United States, consumed by over 154 million adults each and every day.
Though experts agree that coffee is generally healthy in moderation, you can have too much of a good thing. It’s important to limit caffeine consumption, especially considering its effects on your blood pressure. But are there any long-term risks associated with drinking coffee?
Here’s what you need to know about how coffee affects your blood pressure, both in the short- and long-term.
Short-Term Effects of Drinking Coffee
If you feel like you can’t get through the day without a hearty dose of caffeine, you’re not alone. Many who consume caffeine on a daily basis develop a dependence that can trigger withdrawal symptoms like headaches, muscle pain, and lethargy. High caffeine intake can also have temporary negative health effects such as rapid heart rate, increased anxiety, and jitteriness. Because of these short-term effects, the FDA recommends healthy adults consume no more than 400mg of caffeine per day.
When it comes to the short-term effects of coffee in particular, there is some risk for a temporary increase in blood pressure. According to a review of 34 medical studies, drinking between 200 and 300mg of caffeine can raise your systolic blood pressure by up to 8 mmHg and your diastolic blood pressure by up to 6 mmHg. Fortunately, these effects usually only last about three hours and there is unlikely to be any long-lasting harm done to the blood vessels.
Are There Any Long-Term Risks?
Though drinking coffee may result in a temporary increase in blood pressure, there isn’t any evidence to suggest the effects are long-lasting. Nor does regular coffee consumption appear to increase the risk for cardiovascular issues like heart disease or stroke. In fact, consuming 3 to 5 cups of coffee on a regular basis may decrease your risk for heart disease by as much as 15%. That being said, caffeine can affect people differently and your response may depend on how quickly your body metabolizes it.
Are You A Fast Or Slow Caffeine Metabolizer?
New research suggests that people who metabolize caffeine slowly may be more likely to experience negative consequences consuming more than 2 to 3 cups of coffee (200mg per day). In a 2006 study of nearly 4,000 participants, researchers found that slow metabolizers of caffeine have a higher risk for nonfatal heart attack. A 2005 study revealed that women who metabolize caffeine slowly had an increased risk for reduced fertility and recurrent pregnancy loss when drinking 1 to 3 cups of coffee daily while women who metabolize caffeine quickly experience no known negative effects. 
A Healthi(er) Coffee Habit
As with all things, it’s important to enjoy coffee safely and in a healthy way. Avoid loading up your coffee with sugar, artificial sweeteners, or high-fat creamers. If you want to add a little extra flavor, try a sprinkle of cinnamon or a spoonful of cocoa powder. Try to avoid drinking coffee on an empty stomach and try adding collagen to ease digestive distress. Finish your last cup before 2pm to avoid negatively affecting your sleep.
Actively monitoring your health and taking steps to improve it is the key to enjoying a long and healthy life. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein paired with regular physical activity to support heart health and lower high blood pressure. Including coffee in your daily routine (in moderation, of course) could also help protect your cardiovascular health without causing long-term negative effects on blood pressure.
If you are concerned about your blood pressure and heart health, we invite you to schedule a preventive cardiology consultation with Dr. Thaik.