Coffee Enhances Sympathetic Activity and Induces Cardiac Arrhythmias: True or False?

  • G. Zuin
  • E. Piccolo
  • F. Di Pede
  • M. Celestre
  • A. Raviele
Conference paper


Coffee, the most important source of caffeine, is extracted from the fruit of Coffea arabica. The basis of the popularity of all the caffeine-containing beverages has been the ancient belief that these beverages have stimulant and antisoporific actions that elevate mood, decrease fatigue, and increase capacity for work. Caffeine, a methylated xanthine, possesses several pharmacological actions of therapeutic interest: relaxation of smooth muscle, notably bronchial muscle, stimulation of the central nervous system and cardiac muscle, and induction of diuresis. A cup of coffee contains about 85 mg of caffeine and is used as unfiltered (espresso), filtered (“American coffee”), or decaffeinated. The administration of moderate doses of caffeine (500 mg) in healthy, nonsmoking, habitual coffee drinkers significantly raises average ambulatory blood pressure during the working day and evening and reduces average heart rate by 2 bpm [1]. Caffeine also increases by 32% the levels of free epinephrine excreted during the working day and evening. In addition, caffeine amplifies the increase in blood pressure and heart rate associated with higher levels of self-reported stress during the daily activities [1]. Acutely caffeine induces an increase in muscle sympathetic nervous activity and blood pressure in nonhabitual coffee drinkers, whereas habitual coffee drinkers exhibit lack of blood pressure increase despite sympathetic activation [2]. Because decaffeinated coffee also increases blood pressure and muscle sympathetic activity in nonhabitual drinkers, ingredients other than caffeine may be responsible for cardiovascular activation [2]. The consumption of very high doses of unfiltered and filtered coffee increases plasma homocysteine and total cholesterol levels [3].


Coffee Consumption Muscle Sympathetic Nervous Activity Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coffee Drinker Coffee Intake 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Zuin
    • 1
  • E. Piccolo
    • 1
  • F. Di Pede
    • 1
  • M. Celestre
    • 1
  • A. Raviele
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CardiologyUmberto I HospitalMestre-VeniceItaly

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