Caffeine and cardiac arrhythmias

Ann Intern Med. 1991 Jan 15;114(2):147-50. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-114-2-147.


Purpose: To review the evidence supporting the belief that caffeine causes cardiac arrhythmias.

Data sources: Studies published since 1982 identified through computerized searches of MEDLINE, TOXLINE, and Chemical Abstracts and a review of bibliographies of relevant articles on the subject of caffeine and cardiac arrhythmias.

Study selection: All clinical studies examining caffeine as a cause of cardiac arrhythmias and a selection of basic science experiments to illustrate caffeine's effects in vitro.

Data extraction: Study quality was assessed and all available clinical data pertaining to caffeine as a cause of arrhythmias were summarized.

Results of data analysis: In one electrophysiologic study, caffeine was associated with an increased susceptibility to provoked cardiac arrhythmias. In five placebo-controlled trials, caffeine in doses up to 500 mg daily (equivalent to 5 to 6 cups of coffee) did not increase the frequency or severity of ventricular arrhythmias. One large epidemiologic study reported an increase in the frequency of ventricular extrasystoles in persons consuming 9 or more cups of coffee daily.

Conclusion: Moderate ingestion of caffeine does not increase the frequency or severity of cardiac arrhythmias in normal persons, patients with ischemic heart disease, or those with pre-existing serious ventricular ectopy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / chemically induced*
  • Caffeine / adverse effects*
  • Caffeine / toxicity
  • Electrophysiology
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques


  • Caffeine