Coffee And High Blood Pressure

By Mike Harrison



The association between coffee and high blood pressure has been under consideration for a lengthy period of time. Despite conclusive studies showing little or no association between the two, rumors and myths have persisted. Most coffee brands available on grocery shelves contain caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant just as narcotic drugs such as cocaine and others. What doctors agree on is that coffee consumption provided the coffee contains caffeine may result in short-term spikes in blood pressure occurring possibly within minutes of consumption. Home blood pressure monitoring is a good way to establish if your blood pressure rises after coffee consumption. You may take your blood pressure readings after about 30 minutes of coffee consumption.

Doctors note that it may require more than a single standard cup of coffee to observe a blood pressure spike. In fact some medical experts have noted that some two to three cups of coffee containing caffeine may raise both systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers by some 3 to 14 mmHg and 4 to 13mmHg respectively. As to how caffeine leads to high blood pressure there are two main theories. One understanding is that caffeine in coffee blocks an important hormone that is responsible for blood vessels widening. The second theory is that caffeine is a catalyst to a release of a certain hormone from glands which causes blood pressure spikes. In considering the association between coffee and high blood pressure most individuals are interested in the long term effects of coffee consumption on chronic high blood pressure which is also known as hypertension. After tracking up to 150 000 with no history of high blood pressure over a period of 12 years it was established that drinking coffee with caffeine over this period had no effect on the development of hypertension. It would also appear that the temporary spikes in blood pressure associated with coffee consumption does not in any way lead to cardiovascular incidences such heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

The effects of coffee on blood pressure are temporary in individuals in which spikes are experienced. Studies seem to suggest that some individuals develop some form of resistance to blood pressure spikes after repeated coffee consumption over a period of time. Studies also seem to further suggest that some individuals who consume coffee on a regular basis have a higher average blood pressure than people who do not consume coffee or caffeine on a regular basis. Some doctors however still believe that individuals who have high blood pressure and are concerned about the effects of coffee on their condition should limit the amount of coffee they consume on a daily basis. Avoiding coffee or caffeine just before activities is also encouraged as activities also further increase blood pressure especially if intense.

In the midst of this seemingly negative association between coffee and high blood pressure, a study carried out in Europe by Greek researchers involving over 450 men and women aged between 65 and 100 years old indicated that coffee may be responsible for improved blood vessel elasticity. According too blood pressure definition, blood pressure is the force with which blood is exerted on vessel walls whilst flowing. It is a function of the volume of blood in flow and the elasticity or constriction of vessel walls. Individuals with high blood pressure may have constricted blood vessel walls leading to hypertension. Specific hypertension medications seek to dilate blood vessel walls by causing them to relax and to be elastic. This particular study in Europe appears to suggest that the elderly consuming one to two cups of coffee per day had up to 25 percent elasticity in their main blood vessels compared to non-coffee consuming individuals. Some experts have have received these study results with a pinch of salt arguing that these results may not be possibly replicated elsewhere. Apart from high blood pressure, coffee consumption has also been dismissed as a cause of heart disease or any other cardiovascular disease. Doctors agree that caffeine is a weak stimulant is as far as the cause of these conditions is concerned.


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