Does coffee raise blood pressure?


Research about coffee and blood pressure is conflicting. However, it seems that how often a person drinks coffee could influence its effect on blood pressure.
In this article, we talk about how coffee affects blood pressure and what the evidence says. We also discuss when to see a doctor and suggest some alternatives to coffee.
How does coffee raise blood pressure?
Share on PinterestModerate coffee consumption can have a neutral or beneficial effect on hypertension in some people.
Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it decreases the size of blood vessels and can raise blood pressure. Caffeine exerts its effects by interacting with different receptors in the brain. Experts believe that other compounds in coffee, such as antioxidants, have a protective effect on blood vessels.
The benefits and risks of drinking coffee remain somewhat controversial, as the research to date is inconclusive.
Learn more about caffeine sensitivity here.
Long-term effects of drinking coffee
Increased coffee consumption is associated with a small decrease in hypertension, according to a 2017 reviewTrusted Source. The researchers found a 9% reduced risk when drinking 7 cups per day, with a 1% decrease in risk for each additional cup per day.
The same review suggested that beneficial compounds in coffee, such as phenols, may have a protective effect. The researchers also noted that genetic variation among individuals could affect how they metabolize caffeine.
Should people with hypertension avoid coffee?
A 2017 review concluded that people with high blood pressure should exercise some caution when drinking coffee but do not need to avoid it.
The review found that although there were older reports of a link between coffee drinking and hypertension, more recent studies suggested that 3–4 cups a day had either a neutral or beneficial effect.
A 2016 studyTrusted Source of 40 healthy regular coffee drinkers found that all types of coffee increased blood pressure but that the levels stayed within healthy ranges.
The increase in blood pressure was temporary but still measurable 3 hoursTrusted Source after consumption.
Some research suggests that the amount of coffee that someone drinks determines its effects on blood pressure.
A 2015 studyTrusted Source indicated an increase in systolic blood pressure only in people who did not consume coffee frequently. Another reviewTrusted Source found that habitual coffee consumption of more than 3 cups a day did not increase the risk of hypertension. However, there was a slightly elevated risk associated with 1–3 cups a day.
Free cholesterol-lowering tips — all medically reviewed
Get our cholesterol micro-lessons to support you in making lasting lifestyle changes to manage your cholesterol levels. Our experts have gathered cholesterol-lowering tips into free weekly 5-min lessons.
Does decaf coffee raise blood pressure?
As coffee contains many different compounds aside from caffeine, other compounds could be responsible for its effects on blood pressure.
However, a person could try switching to decaffeinated coffee to see whether their blood pressure decreases.
When to stop drinking coffee
Some people find drinking coffee causes insomnia, anxiety, or tremors. Others may notice reflux and heartburn. Anyone who experiences these symptoms due to coffee should avoid drinking it.
According to researchersTrusted Source, regular coffee drinkers may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and low mood, if they suddenly stop consuming it. Therefore, if they wish to reduce their consumption, they should cut down the number of cups gradually.
The authors of a review in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology note that some doctors recommend that people with atrial fibrillation or other conditions involving an irregular heartbeat avoid coffee.
However, they concluded that a regular intake of up to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day appears to be safe and may even be protective against heart rhythm disorders.
The researchers cautioned, though, that if there is a clear association between arrhythmia episodes and caffeine, a person should not drink coffee.
Alternatives to coffee
Some alternatives to coffee contain caffeine, while others are naturally caffeine-free. People can try:
• chicory coffee
• dandelion root coffee
• rooibos tea
• yerba mate
• roasted barley or grain drinks
When to see a doctor
If someone experiences concerning symptoms when they drink coffee, they may wish to speak to a doctor. Those who notice an increase in blood pressure should seek medical advice.