Objective: To determine whether patients should wait 30 minutes after caffeine consumption to have their blood pressure measured.
Data sources: Literature was obtained by searching MEDLINE (1980-September 2007), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1980-September 2007), and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1994-September 2007). Search terms included caffeine and blood pressure. Literature was also obtained from citations in relevant articles.
Study selection and data extraction: Articles that examined caffeine's acute effect on blood pressure were reviewed, with additional focus on caffeine tolerance and hypertensive status.
Data synthesis: Caffeine appears to affect blood pressure through adenosine receptor inhibition and an increased release of select neurotransmitters. Caffeine levels peak 30-120 minutes after oral intake and caffeine's half-life is 3-6 hours. The effect of caffeine on blood pressure has been examined for decades, with variable results depending on factors such as population examined (eg, hypertensive status, physical stressors, age) and study design (eg, acute effects, chronic ingestion, retrospective epidemiologic review). Caffeine tolerance diminishes the acute effect of caffeine on blood pressure, and hypertensive individuals are more susceptible to blood pressure changes. Reviews of caffeine's acute effect on blood pressure indicate changes of 3-15 mm Hg systolic and 4-13 mm Hg diastolic. Typically, blood pressure changes occur within 30 minutes, peak in 1-2 hours, and may persist for more than 4 hours.
Conclusions: Having a patient abstain from caffeine for 30 minutes prior to blood pressure monitoring is not adequate to avoid caffeine's potential effects. An alternative approach to blood pressure monitoring would be to ask the patient about recent caffeine consumption and interpret the blood pressure reading based on this information. In addition, healthcare practitioners should provide education regarding caffeine's effects.