Coffee: friend or foe? We ask Cardio Surgeon Giampaolo Zoffoli MD
Now it's no secret i am a super coffee lover/addict, wether that comes from my Italian heritage, genetics or personal preference, i wouldn't know, but i love the stuff.
So it happens that a friend of mine is a brilliant cardiologist & heart surgeon. He has recently started a blog dedicated to his love and strenuous research on the subject which he kicked off with a super interesting piece on the relationship between drinking coffee and the effects on the heart.
Dr Giampaolo Zoffoli is one of the young, brilliant minds of Italian modern medicine; he is also extremely humble, funny and, most of all, a great Doctor. You know the one you would really go to and blindly trust.
Dr Zoffoli is a heart surgeon and inventor of a Prosthetic conduit for Aortic Debranching, in other words, he knows his stuff when it comes to the matters of the heart.
In cuoresalute.com, he aims to delve deeper on the heart & cardiovascular system (soon to be translated in to English for your reading pleasure).
His blog on coffee and the relationship with the heart debunks some coffee myths too, in relation to the heart of course.
Is coffee bad for the heart?
'The accurate question would be is caffeine good or bad for the heart?', Dr Zoffoli says.
Decaf coffee can be drunk without problems by patients with a cardio-pathology.
If affected by heart disease and you ask a doctor wether a cup or two is allowed,
you'd probably encounter a negative response, without a precise explanation as to why.
As in any case, individual circumstances must be taken in to consideration.
What is caffeine anyway?
1-3-7 trimetil-xantina 😧 or caffeine to you and I, is the main alkaloid component contained in coffee beans.
- Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system which in turn augments the brain's performance ✔︎
- Improves reaction time (which in fitness terms is the ability to react quickly to a stimulus- ie think of an athlete sprinting out of starting blocks);✔︎
- increments muscle capacity upon movement;✔︎
- mild diuretic effect..it can make you pee ✔︎
- can be beneficial to the majority of heart disease patients by stimulating both the cardio & respiratory system ✔︎
These don't sound too good, but to have a proper overview we need to talk the cons in more depth
- Yup...caffeine does make you nervous 👎🏻
- Neurodegenerative dystonia which is: 'a movement disorder characterised by sustained or intermittent muscle contractions causing abnormal, often repetitive, movements, postures, or both. Dystonic movements are typically patterned, twisting, and may be tremulous. Dystonia is often initiated or worsened by voluntary action and associated with overflow muscle activation' from 'Dystonia', see link.
- Gastric ulcer (this is not going well lol)
- Hyperthyroidism or over active thyroid
In a cup of coffee there are 0,10g of caffeine, which is a very small amount with no major effects.
Caffeine is also present in other food sources. The effects of it multiply the more caffeine is consumed.
But it's not all doom and gloom, there are plenty of pharmacology reports listing the beneficial effects of caffeine, Dr Zoffoli says.
So before you stop drinking your favourite cup roast, hang fire. ☕️ All is not lost for us coffee lovers out there.
For coffee to have negative effects such as nervousness, palpitations, agitated states, insomina (oh my god!) and even tremors, the quantity you have to consume have to be excessive. (Phew)
These vary from individual to individual, with age too.
Does caffeine effects heart beats?
It certainly does, but it's dose dependant. Large amounts can cause fast beating of the heart, at times causing tachycardia , cardio spam or extrasystole (when there's a break in the heart beats followed by an extra beat more than normal).
By drinking lots of water and stopping the consumption of coffee, the problem can be resolved and improved. However it may be a symptom for an underlying condition so it's always advisable to seek medical help, if in doubt.
Effects of caffeine on blood pressure?
Caffeine does increase blood pressure.
If you suffer from low blood pressure, the doctor may advise to drink a strong coffee.
And if you suffer from high blood pressure, no coffee for you right?
Not necessarily. Decaf can be consumed without worry. If you want a 'real cup' though it would be advisable not to exceed two to three per day, as long as no change in heart beats frequency is noticed.
If you are anxious by nature however, you may need to reduce the amounts of caffeine you consume per day, as it can aggravate the situation making you more susceptible to life's ups-and-downs.
Smoking & coffee: bad combination
Yup. There is no saving grace for the pairing. Avoid at all costs.
Drinking too much coffee will lead to heart attack?
A detailed study has excluded any links between caffeine and coronary heart disease.
it was thought that if coffee is consumed continually, it may influence the composition of fats in the blood. However, this modification is more likely to be attributed to the use of sugar in coffee.
Does coffee aid weight loss?
Zero calories (without sugar) 👍🏻
Stimulant for performance (perfect pre-workout)👍🏻
Coffee can aid weight loss. But without sugar of course! Whilst 2-3 cups of coffee a day are absolutely fine and can be beneficial, three spoons of sugar or more a day are not.
Does coffee drinking lead to lack of sleep?
It seems to be completely down to the individual. Some people sleep just fine having drunk a coffee in the evening, others seem to suffer and lose sleep. So inconsistent results on this one.
Two or three cups of coffee are perfectly fine, but we need to learn to listen to our body, and with our doctor's help, if necessary, reduce the amounts we drink.
Until then though, i'll have a nice espresso (no sugar) for pre-workout. Doctor's order 😜