Caffeine is one of the ingredients that is present in many popular drinks, such as coffee, tea and cola drinks. It is probably also one of the world's most highly investigated food ingredients. Despite frequently being pronounced as relatively free of detrimental effects when consumed in moderation, caffeine is still the subject of constant and active research.
One specific area that has generated a huge amount of research in the last twenty years is the suggestion that caffeine intake and coffee drinking are involved in the development of cardiovascular disorders. The influence of coffee and caffeine intake on established risk factors for heart disease, including blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure, continues to attract attention and could have a detrimental effect on lifestyle.
A study was conducted in 1988 where blood pressure and heart rate during a normal working day were monitored. Their subjects comprised a small group of healthy, non-smoking habitual coffee drinkers consuming the daily caffeine intake in adult coffee drinkers.
The daily dose was divided into two parts which were consumed at about 8.00am and 12.30pm. The subjects were asked to engage in normal work-related activities during which ambulatory measurements of blood pressure and heart rate were recorded every 15 minutes for 6 to 8 hours.
From the study, it was observed that the average workday blood pressure and heart rate were significantly higher when the higher (500mg) dose of caffeine was given.
It's worth noting that even relatively small differences in diastolic blood pressure have been shown to be associated with quite considerable differences in the incidence of stroke and coronary heart disease and could in the long-term increase risk of cardiovascular disorders.
However, it is worth noting that the high dose of caffeine (500mg/day) was equivalent to consuming about 3¼ cups of instant coffee all at once on two different occasions. This is unlikely to be the same as consuming a more moderate amount of caffeine over the course of a day.
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