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Coffee safe for many with abnormal heart rhythms

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Caffeine can send the heart racing, but for some people it may help prevent abnormal heartbeats, according to Australian researchers report which found coffee and tea are safe and may sometimes reduce the frequency of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).

To see how caffeine affects patients with the common heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation, Kistler and colleagues looked at eight previously published studies.

The report published (April 16) in the journal JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology suggest that up to 300 milligrams of caffeine a day may be safe for patients with abnormal heartbeats.

In addition, the researchers found that caffeine had no effect on abnormal heartbeats in the lower chambers of the heart, called ventricular arrhythmias.

“Although coffee increases your heart rate, it does not make it abnormal,” explained senior researcher Dr. Peter Kistler, director of electrophysiology at Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.

“We found that there is no detrimental effects of coffee on heart rhythm and, in fact, coffee at up to three cups per day may be protective,” he added.

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Some people, however, may notice palpitations after drinking coffee, and those folks should avoid caffeine, Kistler added.

“We have completed the largest review of the medical literature to date to determine the relationship between coffee and arrhythmias, or abnormal heartbeats,” he said.

Kistler’s group found that, among more than 228,000 patients, drinking coffee cut the frequency of episodes of atrial fibrillation by 6 percent. A further analysis of nearly 116,000 patients found a 13 percent risk reduction.

One cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine and acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system. Caffeine also blocks adenosine, a chemical that can trigger atrial fibrillation, Kistler explained.

As many as six cups of coffee a day, about 500 milligrams of caffeine, did not increase the severity or rate of ventricular arrhythmias, the study authors said.

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Moreover, one study of 103 heart attack patients who got about 353 milligrams of caffeine a day found improved heart rate and no significant arrhythmias, according to the new report.

Two studies, however, found an increase in the risk for ventricular arrhythmias among patients who drank as much as nine or 10 cups of coffee a day.

But Kistler’s team did find that patients with heart conditions should avoid caffeinated energy drinks. These drinks can each contain 160 to 500 milligrams of concentrated caffeine.

With Agency Inputs

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Diabetes drug might ease heart failure risk

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A new research has showed that the diabetes drug Farxiga might do double-duty for patients, helping to ward off another killer, heart failure.

According to the findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with their presentation at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, Type 2 diabetics who took Farxiga saw their odds of hospitalization for heart failure drop by 27 percent compared to those who took a placebo.

Farxiga is a type of drug called a SGLT2 inhibitor. The compound is called dapagliflozin.

The study included more than 17,000 type 2 diabetes patients aged 40 and older. Nearly 7,000 had heart disease and more than 10,000 had numerous risk factors for heart disease, Wiviott’s group said.

Patients were randomly assigned to take a dummy placebo pill or 10 milligrams of Farxiga each day.

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“When it comes to helping our patients control and manage blood glucose, the ‘how’ appears to be as important [as] the ‘how much,” said study author Dr Stephen Wiviott, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“When choosing a therapy, trial results like these can help us make an informed decision about what treatments are not only safe and effective for lowering blood glucose but can also reduce risk of heart and kidney complications,” Wiviott said in a hospital news release.

Taking the drug did not reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular-related death, the research team noted. However, patients who took the drug did see healthy declines in their blood sugar levels, plus an added bonus: a 27 percent decrease in their risk of hospitalization for heart failure.

Their risk of kidney failure and death from kidney failure also fell, researchers noted.

Two other recent studies of this class of drugs show that they “robustly and consistently improve heart and kidney outcomes in a broad population of patients with diabetes,” Wiviott noted.

With Inputs from HealthDay

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