A new study just disproved a long-held belief about caffeine and your heart

Guys, my love of coffee is vindicated. Finally I can drink multiple cups without people telling me I’m going to give myself a heart attack. (Take that, Starbucks barista who shakes her head when I stop by for my daily latte!)

According to a new study led by Dr. Gregory Marcus, a cardiologist at the University of California San Francisco, caffeinated drinks do not appear to cause heart palpitations, heart fluttering, or any other out-of-sync heartbeat patterns. Break out the espresso!

“Clinical recommendations advising against the regular consumption of caffeinated products to prevent disturbances of the heart’s cardiac rhythm should be reconsidered, as we may unnecessarily be discouraging consumption of items like chocolate, coffee and tea that might actually have cardiovascular benefits,” Marcus said in a statement.

This report challenges a widely-held belief that caffeinated drinks can cause irregular heart rhythms that lead to heart failure or dangerous heart rhythm disorders. When I read this news, I became so excited I almost spilled my coffee all over my lap.

During the study, Marcus and colleagues examined 1,388 people who were taking part in a larger heart study. The median age of the group was 72. Around 60 percent of the study’s subjects claimed they drank some sort of caffeinated product every day. The team looked specifically at coffee, tea and chocolate and did not ask about super-caffeinated energy drinks. (That’s okay, I’m not a fan of those, anyway.) Researchers measured instances of premature ventricular contractions and premature atrial contractions. In the end, they could not find any differences in instances of these heart disturbances, no matter how much coffee or tea or chocolate people had. YES!

“Therefore, we are only able to conclude that in general, consuming caffeinated products every day is not associated with having increased … arrhythmia but cannot specify a particular amount per day,” Marcus and his colleagues wrote in the Journal of the American Heart Association. In fact, coffee has various health benefits that should not be ignored. As Marcus noted, “Regular coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and other cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and depression… Furthermore, large observational studies have found that habitual coffee drinkers have lower rates of coronary artery disease and of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean we should just take this news and run to our local coffee shop and chug coffee like Homer Simpson chugs beer. Kids should still not drink a great deal of caffeine, and anything more than five cups a day can cause health problems. This is bad news for 18th century satirist Voltaire, who reportedly drank “40 to 50 cups of coffee a day.” No wonder he had the energy to write so much. Regardless, the rest of us can rest easy and celebrate — perhaps with an extra cup of coffee as a pick-me-up!

(Image via Miramax)