Coffee consumption and heart rate variability: the Brazilian longitudinal study of adult health (ELSA-Brazil) cohort study
Studies have shown that acute coffee ingestion can affect cardiovascular autonomic activity, although the chronic effects on heart rate variability (HRV) remain controversial.
A cross-sectional study with baseline data (2008-2010) from ELSA-Brasil cohort of 15,105 (aged 35-74), based in six Brazilian states. Coffee consumption in the previous 12 months was measured using the semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire, and HRV was obtained through electrocardiographic tracings during 10 min at rest. Independent association between the frequency of coffee consumption “never or almost never”, “≤1 cup/day”, “2-3 cups/day”, “≥3 cups/day”, and HRV was estimated using generalized linear regression, adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, health-related behavior, markers of abnormal metabolism, and the presence of coronary artery disease. Further, we applied Bonferroni correction in the full models.
The mean age was 52 years (standard deviation (SD) = 9.1), and 52% was female; 9.5% never/almost never consumed coffee. In univariate analysis, coffee consumers had reduced values of HRV indexes, but after full adjustments and correction for multiple comparisons, these associations disappeared. A trend of reduction in HRV vagal indexes was observed in those that consumed ≥3 cups of coffee/day.
Most of the effects attributed to the chronic use of coffee on the HRV indexes is related to the higher prevalence of unhealthy habits in coffee users, such as smoking and alcohol use. Adjustment for confounding factors weaken this association, making it non-significant. The effect of higher daily doses of coffee on the autonomic system should be evaluated in further studies.
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