When it comes to caffeine, how much is too much? - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

When it comes to caffeine, how much is too much?

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By Deena Centofanti  myFOXDetroit.com


We live in a caffeinated world in which 90 percent of us consume coffee, cola or some other form of the stimulant everyday. So here's the question, what's it doing to our hearts?

We workout to boost our heart rate and get the blood pumping but when your heart rate starts to jump for other reasons, it could be a problem.  Beaumont Health System Doctor David Haines explains, "an accelerated heart rate during exercise or emotions is normal or healthy, it's a response to adrenalin in your system. But when your heart accelerates due to a drug effect and caffeine is a drug, that can have adverse consequences."

What caffeine will do to your heart depends on a couple of things including how sensitive you are to it, and how much you're drinking. In fact, there was one study that found moderate caffeine drinking had a protective effect against rhythm abnormalities. But it's clear there are some patients in which caffeine causes their hearts to have palpitations and occasionally that can trigger some rhythm problems.

In fact the number of emergency room visits involving energy drinks has doubled in recent years with teens and adults slurping down mega doses of caffeine from 10,000 in 2007, to more than 20,000 in 2011. And yes while too much caffeine can cause a pounding or fluttering in the chest, it can be worse.

"It can initiate premature heartbeat or afib which is a rapid irregular rhythm," Haines said.    Which can be a serious risk, but if you keep your caffeine to a reasonable amount, you should be safe.

One or two caffeinated drinks in the course of a day , coffee or coke is fine, but going to excess can get you into trouble. If you're worried about heart palpitations, slowly cut back on your caffeine. But if you also have shortness of breath, fainting or chest pain, see a doctor.

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