Can Caffeine Increase Your Blood Pressure?

Caffeine, which most of us get from our daily dose of coffee, is a natural stimulant. The popularity it enjoys is not exactly surprising given the effect it has on the nervous system. Despite the bitter taste, we learn to love the beverage as it helps us wake up and become more alert.

But can the buzz become a dangerous thing when it comes to our hypertension risk? Given the fact that stimulants can also lead to blood vessel constriction, one of the questions people often ask about caffeine is whether it can lead to high blood pressure.

While it may trigger a short-lived increase in blood pressure, caffeine does not raise the risk of hypertension, which is a long-term medical condition. There is no evidence linking this to coffee consumption, according to the Joint National Committee on Hypertension.

To provide a clearer picture, Italian researcher Giuseppe Grosso sheds light on two important points. First, he confirms that the spike in blood pressure caused by caffeine is only temporary. Second, this elevation is only likely to affect people who do not consume caffeine frequently. 

Since such people have not built a tolerance the way regular coffee drinkers have, the caffeine can cause the narrowing of blood vessels, in turn, increasing the pressure of blood flow. This effect will not increase the risk of developing hypertension in the future.

As for people who already have the condition, it is worth asking your doctor if you should reduce your coffee intake. "If you're concerned about caffeine's effect on your blood pressure, try limiting the amount of caffeine you drink to 200 milligrams a day," writes Sheldon G. Sheps of the Mayo Clinic.

Speaking to a health professional also helps since the responses of our body vary on an individual basis. While one person can tolerate several doses of caffeine through the day, another may end up facing side effects. 

"Some people are slow metabolizers of caffeine," said Penny Kris-Etherton, a nutrition professor at Penn State University. "It’s a genetic predisposition. Some people can experience jitters, palpitation, insomnia – sort of like those energy drinks that give you a big boost."

If you are advised to reduce your caffeine intake, a slow and steady decrease tends to work better than going cold turkey. This is because the withdrawal symptoms can be hard to deal with. They include painful headaches, loss of concentration, mood swings, tremors, and more which last anywhere between two to nine days.

On the other hand, cutting back slowly can reduce the severity of these effects. If you are looking for a good alternative to coffee, consider any of these refreshing drinks to start your day on a healthful note.