Should You Limit Your Caffeine Intake, If You Have Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib)?

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By Dolly M George

16 Apr, 2018

#Dietitian


Living with atrial fibrillation -- the fast, abnormal heart rhythm that can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications? Are you wondering whether you can have caffeine containing foods or whether you should cut them out of your diet to maintain a healthy heart rate and rhythm.?


When you think of caffeine, the first thing that comes to your mind might be coffee. Surprisingly, lot of other foods and drinks-- green, black and white teas; energy drinks, soft drinks, chocolate; ice-creams and baked goods that contain cocoa powder-- all have caffeine in varying amount.


How does caffeine affect atrial fibrillation?
Caffeine can speed up your heart rate due to its stimulant properties and trigger an episode of AFib.  As a result, people with AFib are often advised by doctors to avoid caffeine or their keep intake low. However, there is no compelling evidence to link caffeine intake with the risk of atrial fibrillation or its complications.


Too much caffeine however, can raise your blood pressure and increase your heart rate which can trigger atrial fibrillation. Also, some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others and can become victims of  Afib--the fast, abnormal heart beat.


Watch out for the hidden sources of caffeine as well...
Many energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and have the hidden danger of not being accurately reported on the label. It’s hidden under different names like guarana, but the active ingredient is basically caffeine.
Also, it’s not just important to watch out for foods and beverages that contain caffeine.  Caffeine can also be found in certain headache and migraine medications, in certain dietary supplements used for weight loss and so on.


What should you do?

Caffeine sensitivity varies from person to person. You may experience a heart rate from a smaller amount of caffeine than someone else. So, if you enjoy foods and beverages containing caffeine and your use of caffeinated products has not caused glitches in the past, keep your consumption to a moderate and consistent amount.


Love drinking coffee and guessing what's the right amount? Try keeping your intake down to a cup or two a day, and preferably towards the morning hours to avoid sleep disruption which can trigger AFib.


However, if you are very sensitive to caffeine and you experience symptoms such as palpitations, it is always wise to discuss safe caffeine intake with your doctor, as he would have a better understanding of your condition, your sensitivity and your risks involved.

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