Have you ever heard the saying, “my heart skipped a beat?” Well, it’s a real thing and it’s not particularly good. Known medically as atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, the condition causes the heart to beat irregularly and less efficiently, leading to an estimated 750,000 hospitalizations a year in the US. While the cause of this most common form of heart arrhythmia is unknown (I hypothesize it’s the result of listening to too much prog rock with all its wacky time signatures), many, including the American Heart Association, have suggested that it may be coffee, at least in part. But one new study says that's all wrong.
As reported by Forbes, a study published in Journal of the American Heart Association examined health data from 19,000 men who took part in the long-term Physician’s Health Study, comparing coffee consumption against a-fib risk. The researchers found that participants who consumed anywhere between one and three cups of coffee daily in fact had a 15% lower risk of a-fib than those who consumed no coffee at all. Per Forbes, there was a small “dosage effect,” with “the greatest reduction in risk at about 1.5 cups per day, and less benefit as consumption rose to 4 or more cups.”
This benefit, though, only appears applicable to men. A similar study performed in 2010 found that, while coffee consumption was not linked to an increased risk of a-fib in women, there was no indication it was associated with a decrease. The Forbes article does note, however, that one table from that study does actually show a 20% decrease in a-fib by women consuming an “average amount of caffeine,” which jibes more with the findings in the men’s study.
So at the very least, coffee has been shown to have no adverse effect on atrial fibrillation and may in fact be beneficial. Combined with prior studies finding coffee linked with a reduced risk of heart failure—especially filter coffee—it's safe to say that the drink you love most loves you right back.