Caffeine and Blood Pressure: Is it a Healthy Relationship?

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

caffeine and blood pressure
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Wakey Wakey! It’s time for your morning dose of caffeine! Whether you choose tea or coffee as your beverage of choice, it’s caffeine that you are reaching out for. Caffeine must be one of the most popular and unifying food ingredients around the world, but how healthy is it? Does it impact your vitals adversely? What about caffeine and blood pressure? Let’s find out. 

Contents:
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    What is Caffeine?
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    What Drinks are Full of Caffeine?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Is Caffeine Good or Bad for Your Health?
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    Does Caffeine Increase Blood Pressure?
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    What are the Short and Long-term Effects of Caffeine on Blood Pressure?
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    What is the Best Time for Caffeine Consumption?
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    How Much Caffeine is Safe to be Consumed in a Day?
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    What are the Other Health Benefits of Caffeine?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What are the Disadvantages of Caffeine Consumption?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Alternatives to Caffeinated Drinks
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    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is generally found in tea, coffee, kola nuts, cacao plants and guarana plants. It can also be manufactured synthetically. Caffeine works by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes your brain and induces tiredness. Adenosine levels increase as the day progresses, making you more tired and causing sleepiness. 

Caffeine helps you stay awake by connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them. This blocks the effects of adenosine and reduces tiredness. It may also increase the blood levels of another neurotransmitter called adrenaline and the brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine

Thus, caffeine can help you feel awake, alert, and focused through a combination of these mechanisms.

What Drinks are Full of Caffeine?

Several drinks or beverages contain caffeine as the main stimulant. Some drinks that contain caffeine include:

  • Black Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Soft drinks
  • Cocoa beverages
  • Coffee Liqueur

1 cup (about 240 ml) of brewed black tea contains 47.4 mg of caffeine. Further, 1 cup (about 240 ml) of coffee contains 94.8 mg of caffeine. 

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Is Caffeine Good or Bad for Your Health?

Caffeine is generally considered safe for consumption and beneficial for health if consumed within the recommended quantity. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) state that a daily intake of 400 mg of caffeine is safe. Pregnant women should limit their daily intake of caffeine to less than 200 mg.

The health benefits of caffeine and side effects due to excessive consumption are defined later in the blog.

Does Caffeine Increase Blood Pressure?

Research on the connection between caffeine and blood pressure is still ongoing. The response of blood pressure to caffeine also appears to differ from person to person. Studies suggest that caffeine can cause a spike in your blood pressure for a short duration of time. This effect was observed for up to three hours after consumption of caffeine.

Caffeine has a vasoconstrictor effect. Vasoconstriction is when your blood vessels become narrow. This increases the resistance to blood flow and raises your blood pressure levels. Research suggests that caffeine exerts this effect by interacting with different receptors in your brain.

Other studies suggest that caffeine stimulates your adrenal glands to release adrenaline. Adrenaline is a stress hormone, which increases your heart rate and blood pressure.

It has been observed that some individuals who regularly drink caffeinated beverages have a higher average blood pressure than those who do not consume caffeine. However, some regular drinkers of caffeinated beverages may develop a tolerance to caffeine and have no long-term effect on their blood pressure.

What are the Short and Long-term Effects of Caffeine on Blood Pressure?

If you love tea or coffee and do not want to give it up, do not worry. Caffeine consumption within the recommended limits does not appear to have adverse effects on blood pressure.

  • Short-Term Effects

Caffeine may cause a short but noticeable increase in your blood pressure for up to 3 hours after consumption, especially if you do not drink caffeinated beverages regularly. For some individuals who have developed caffeine tolerance, there may be no significant impact on blood pressure levels.

  • Long Term Effects

Though caffeine may increase your blood pressure temporarily, this effect does not seem to extend for the long term. The long-term effect of caffeine is different for different individuals. 

For some people who drink caffeinated beverages habitually, their blood pressure levels are higher than those who do not consume caffeine. Others who regularly drink caffeinated beverages develop a tolerance to caffeine and thus it does not have a long-term effect on their blood pressure levels.

Even if you have high blood pressure, research suggests that daily coffee consumption may not have a significant impact on your blood pressure levels. In fact, as per a study, increased coffee consumption is associated with a small decrease in hypertension.

It is advisable to consume caffeine in moderation irrespective of your health condition. If you have high blood pressure, ask your healthcare provider for advice about your caffeine consumption. 

What is the Best Time for Caffeine Consumption?

It is advisable to consume caffeine at least an hour after waking up, with mid to late morning (9.30 am to 11.30 am) being considered to be the most suitable time for caffeine consumption.

This is because your cortisol (a stress hormone) levels are highest during the initial 30 to 45 minutes of waking up and decrease through the rest of the day. Consuming caffeine early in the morning may not be as beneficial as consuming it during the daytime as your cortisol levels may alter the energising effects of caffeine.

Consuming a caffeinated beverage about 30 to 60 minutes before a workout or sporting event can help optimise caffeine’s beneficial effects on exercise performance.

Further, the stimulating effects of caffeine last for about 3 to 5 hours. Thus, consuming caffeine too close to bedtime can cause sleeping problems. You should avoid caffeine consumption at least 3 to 5 hours before going to bed.

How Much Caffeine is Safe to be Consumed in a Day?

As per the USDA and EFSA, you should not have more than 400 mg of caffeine a day, which equals about 4 to 5 cups of coffee or tea.

Also, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before consuming caffeinated beverages if you are pregnant, trying to conceive, breastfeeding, or taking medication for an existing health condition such as hypertension, diabetes, etc.

What are the Other Health Benefits of Caffeine?

When consumed within the recommended quantity, caffeine has several health benefits, including:

  • It may improve your mood, stimulate brain function, decrease the likelihood of depression, and protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • It may boost your metabolism.
  • When consumed in small amounts before exercise, caffeine is likely to improve exercise performance.
  • Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea may reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

What are the Disadvantages of Caffeine Consumption?

Excessive intake of caffeine (beyond 400 mg every day) can cause side effects including:

  • Anxiety 
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Sleep issues
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Interaction with some medications
  • Habit formation

Alternatives to Caffeinated Drinks

If you do not want to consume caffeinated beverages due to their effect on your body or mind, you can look for non-caffeinated alternatives too:

  • Chicory Coffee: Just like coffee beans, you can roast, grind and brew chicory roots and make a drink that tastes and smells like coffee. Chicory is a rich source of inulin, a soluble fibre that may aid in digestion and promote a healthy gut.
  • Golden Milk: Our very own haldi doodh is a great substitute for caffeinated drinks. Prepared warm, it contains the goodness of spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger.
  • Smoothie: You can make a smoothie by blending fruits and vegetables of your choice in a blender with a little water or fruit juice if required. Due to the usage of whole fruits and vegetables, smoothies can retain the fibre-rich content of the ingredients and provide many benefits.
  • Lemon Water: It is calorie and caffeine-free and provides lots of vitamin C from the lemons. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your skin from sun damage and is essential for creating collagen, the main structural protein in your body. You can add more flavour by mixing in cucumbers, mint, watermelon, or basil.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is generally found in tea, coffee, kola nuts, cacao plants and guarana plants. It can also be manufactured synthetically. It can help you feel awake, alert, and focused through a combination of mechanisms.
  • Some drinks that contain caffeine include black tea, green tea, coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks, cocoa beverages, and coffee liqueur.
  • Caffeine is generally considered safe for consumption and beneficial for health if consumed within the recommended quantity.
  • Studies suggest that caffeine can cause a spike in your blood pressure for a short duration of time. This effect was observed for up to three hours after consumption of caffeine.
  • Though caffeine may increase your blood pressure temporarily, this effect does not seem to extend for the long term. The long-term effect of caffeine is different for different individuals. 
  • It is advisable to consume caffeine in moderation irrespective of your health condition. Mid to late morning (9.30 am to 11.30 am) is generally considered to be the most suitable time for caffeine consumption.
  • You should not have more than 400 mg of caffeine a day, which equals about 4 to 5 cups of coffee or tea. Also, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before consuming caffeinated beverages if you are pregnant, trying to conceive, breastfeeding, or taking medication for an existing health condition such as hypertension, diabetes, etc. 
  • Caffeine may improve your mood, stimulate brain function, boost your metabolism, improve exercise performance, and reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Excessive intake of caffeine can cause side effects including anxiety, restlessness, tremors, headache, migraine, sleep issues, irregular heartbeat, interaction with some medications, and habit formation.
  • Non-caffeinated beverages include chicory coffee, golden milk (haldi doodh), smoothie, and lemon water.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading cardiologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate BP monitors and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Hypertension Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat high blood pressure problems together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, coffee is a good beverage if you have low blood pressure as the caffeine in coffee does not seem to lower or increase blood pressure levels over the long term. You may not observe any change in your blood pressure levels at all after coffee consumption. The caffeine present in coffee usually causes a short but dramatic rise in your blood pressure levels, that lasts for about 3 hours.

Coffee affects different people differently, and may or may not cause your blood pressure levels to increase further. The caffeine in black coffee causes a short but noticeable increase in your blood pressure levels only for a short period of time, about 3 hours. If you have high blood pressure, consult your doctor before including black coffee in your diet.

The cumulation of results from various studies shows that 200 to 300 mg of caffeine from coffee (about 1.5 to 2 cups) caused an average increase of 8 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 6 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure.

Yes, even one cup of coffee can cause a small to moderate hike in your blood pressure levels, especially if you do not drink caffeinated drinks frequently. This effect stays for about 3 hours after consumption. 

Yes, in some cases, excessive caffeine intake (beyond 400 mg per day) may cause your heart to beat faster. It may also lead to altered heart rhythm, a condition called atrial fibrillation. However, these effects appear to vary from one person to another. So if you feel a faster heartbeat or any other side effect of excessive caffeine intake, consider reducing your intake.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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