Shalini Dixit

UCSF medical student Shalini Dixit is one of the researchers involved in a study on caffeine. (LinkedIn photo)

NEW YORK — You now have another reason to drink that cup of coffee. Researchers, including University of California-San Francisco Indian American medical student Shalini Dixit, report that regular caffeine consumption does not lead to extra heartbeats, which may lead, in rare cases, to heart- or stroke-elated morbidity and mortality.

The study, led by researchers at UCSF, measured the chronic consumption of caffeinated products over a 12-month period.

"Clinical recommendations advising against the regular consumption of caffeinated products should be reconsidered as we may unnecessarily be discouraging consumption of items like chocolate, coffee and tea that might actually have cardiovascular benefits," said senior author Gregory Marcus, health cardiologist and director of clinical research.

"Given our recent work demonstrating that extra heartbeats can be dangerous, this finding is especially relevant," he noted in a paper published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Excessive premature atrial contractions have been shown to result in atrial fibrillation, stroke and death, while excessive premature ventricular contractions have been shown to result in increased heart failure, coronary artery disease and death.

Both abnormalities have been tied to caffeine consumption through studies and trials but these studies were performed several decades ago and did not use PACs and PVCs as a primary outcome.

In their study, Marcus and his colleagues analyzed 1,388 randomly selected participants.

Of the total participants, 840 (61 percent) consumed more than one caffeinated product daily.

The researchers found no differences in the number of PACs or PVCs per hour across levels of coffee, tea and chocolate consumption. More frequent consumption of these products was not associated with extra heartbeats.

"This was the first community-based sample to look at the impact of caffeine on extra heartbeats, as previous studies looked at people with known arrhythmias," said lead author Dixit.

"Whether acute consumption of these caffeinated products affects extra heartbeats requires further study," she said.

Recent growing evidence indicates the potential cardiovascular benefits of several common caffeinated products such as coffee, chocolate and tea.

The result is uncertainty in counseling patients on consumption of these products, with patients possibly reducing their intake to avoid presumed cardiac issues.

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