Though it is a widely held belief that caffeinated beverages predispose individuals to arrhythmias, it is not clear whether regular coffee consumption is associated with development of atrial fibrillation (AF).
We examined the association between long-term coffee consumption and development of AF in both habitual (≥0.5 cups of daily coffee) and nonhabitual (<0.5 cups/day) drinkers.
A total of 5,972 men and women, aged 45-84 years and without a history of cardiovascular disease at baseline in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) were followed from 2000 to 2014 for incident AF with baseline coffee consumption assessed in 2000-2002 via a Food Frequency Questionnaire and divided into quartiles of 0 cups/day, >0 to <0.5 cups/day, ≥0.5 to 1.5 cups/day, and ≥1.5 cups/day.
Out of the 828 incident cases of AF, intermittent coffee consumption (>0 to 0.5 cups of daily coffee) was associated with a greater risk of incident AF (HR 1.22, 95% CI 1.01-1.48) relative to 0 cups/day in multivariable Cox proportional hazards models after adjustment for numerous AF risk factors. This relation was particularly pronounced in men (adjusted HR=1.36, 95% CI 1.04-1.77). Higher coffee consumption was not associated with AF risk (HR 1.03, 95%CI 0.93-1.14 for ≥0.5 to 1.5 cups/day and 1.05, 95%CI 0.97-1.13 for ≥1.5 cups/day).
While there appears to be no dose-response association between habitual coffee intake and AF risk, we found evidence that intermittent, but not habitual, coffee consumption is associated with a modestly increased risk of incident AF that deserves further study.