How Does Coffee Affect Blood Pressure?

Two cappuccinos on a wooden table.
Two cappuccinos on a wooden table. (Image: MariaDubova/iStock/Getty Images)

Depending on what you read, coffee is either good for you or bad for you, even when it comes to high blood pressure. Consult your doctor to discuss coffee in your diet.

About Blood Pressure

A blood pressure measurement determines the force of blood against your artery walls as it's pumped by your heart. When the force is too strong over a prolonged period of time, as in the case of someone with high blood pressure, it can damage your heart, blood vessels and kidneys.

Your blood pressure measurement includes two numbers. The systolic number, which is the top or first number, measures the pressure when your heart is beating, while the dystolic number, the bottom or second number, measures the pressure when your heart is at rest.

A normal blood pressure measures 120 millimeters or less over 80 millimeters or less. High blood pressure measures 140 millimeters or greater over 90 millimeters or greater. Only your doctor can determine if you have high blood pressure.

Coffee and Caffeine

The reason you may need to watch your intake of coffee if you have high blood pressure is because of its caffeine content. Caffeine is a natural substance found in the coffee, but it is also considered a drug that stimulates your central nervous system. One 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains anywhere from 65 milligrams to 120 milligrams of caffeine. The same serving of decaf coffee has about 2 milligrams to 4 milligrams of caffeine.

Coffee and Blood Pressure

The caffeine in coffee seems to cause a short but significant increase in blood pressure, even in people who don't have high blood pressure, according to

It's not quite understood how caffeine affects blood pressure. One theory is the caffeine may block a hormone that widens arteries or, as a result of its effects on your nervous system, the increase in adrenaline causes an increase in blood pressure. However, if you continue to drink coffee with caffeine, the effect it has on your blood pressure decreases and returns to more normal levels, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Should You Drink Coffee?

There is no direct link to coffee drinking and the development of high blood pressure, according to HSPH. But if you're having a hard time controlling your blood pressure, swapping your usual cup of joe for a caffeine-free beverage may be the way to go.

Caffeine in coffee is addictive. To prevent withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and drowsiness, cut back on your coffee intake slowly by mixing your regular coffee with decaf coffee, changing the proportion until you're drinking only decaf.

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