Objective: We review the published data relating to intake of coffee and caffeine on blood pressure in man. We also refer to studies on the possible mechanisms of actions of these effects of caffeine.
Design: The MEDLINE and Current Contents databases were searched from 1966 to April 1999 using the text words ‘coffee or caffeine’ and ‘blood pressure or hypertension’. Controlled clinical and epidemiologic studies on the blood pressure effects of coffee or caffeine are reviewed. We also refer to studies on the possible mechanisms of action of these effects of caffeine.
Results: Acute intake of coffee and caffeine increases blood pressure. Caffeine is probably the main active component in coffee. The pressor response is strongest in hypertensive subjects. Some studies with repeated administration of caffeine showed a persistent pressor effect, whereas in others chronic caffeine ingestion did not increase blood pressure. Epidemiologic studies have produced contradictory findings regarding the association between blood pressure and coffee consumption. During regular use tolerance to the cardiovascular responses develops in some people, and therefore no systematic elevation of blood pressure in long-term and in population studies can be shown.
Conclusions: We conclude that regular coffee may be harmful to some hypertension-prone subjects. The hemodynamic effects of chronic coffee and caffeine consumption have not been sufficiently studied. The possible mechanisms of the cardiovascular effects of caffeine include the blocking of adenosine receptors and the inhibition of phosphodiesterases.