Background: Whether the increase in blood pressure with coffee drinking seen in clinical trials persists over time and translates into an increased incidence of hypertension is not known.
Methods: We assessed coffee intake in a cohort of 1017 white male former medical students (mean age, 26 years) in graduating classes from 1948 to 1964 up to 11 times over a median follow-up of 33 years. Blood pressure and incidence of hypertension were determined annually by self-report, demonstrated to be accurate in this cohort.
Results: Consumption of 1 cup of coffee a day raised systolic blood pressure by 0.19 mm Hg (95% confidence interval, 0.02-0.35) and diastolic pressure by 0.27 mm Hg (95% confidence interval, 0.15-0.39) after adjustment for parental incidence of hypertension and time-dependent body mass index, cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, and physical activity in analyses using generalized estimating equations. Compared with nondrinkers at baseline, coffee drinkers had a greater incidence of hypertension during follow-up (18.8% vs. 28.3%; P =.03). Relative risk (95% confidence interval) of hypertension associated with drinking 5 or more cups a day was 1.35 (0.87-2.08) for baseline intake and 1.60 (1.06-2.40) for intake over follow-up. After adjustment for the variables listed above, however, these associations were not statistically significant.
Conclusion: Over many years of follow-up, coffee drinking is associated with small increases in blood pressure, but appears to play a small role in the development of hypertension.