Can Caffeine Cause Chest Pains?

caffeine chest pain

Drinking coffee, tea, or other similar beverages is part of many adults’ daily routine today. Coffee is good for keeping people alert and awake in the mornings, and they like this effect. There are many positive effects of caffeine, besides the stimulating effects, such as improved mental focus and alertness. However, too much caffeine can result in some untoward side effects. While chest pain may not be one of these side effects, too much caffeine or coffee can result in anxiety, restlessness, and migraines.

Caffeine sources

According to a study published in “American Society for Nutrition,” the diet of eighty-nine percent of American adults contains caffeine, and seventy percent of this caffeine is from coffee. There are various other caffeine sources, including energy drinks, soft drinks, chocolate, tea, and some drugs like Midol.

An 8-ounce cup of coffee can have up to 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. Soft drinks and tea usually contain less than 50 milligrams of caffeine for every 12 ounces. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that less than 400 milligrams of daily caffeine intake in adults is a moderate amount and is not associated with untoward or harmful effects. Caffeine consumption is not advisable in adolescents and children.

Caffeine cardiovascular effects

One of the effects of caffeine on the cardiovascular system is vasoconstriction, which means narrowing blood vessels. Caffeine can behave like vasoconstrictors and cause narrowing of blood vessels, and this effect is linked to chest pain, elevated blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

There are some intricacies to the cardiovascular effects of caffeine. After consuming caffeine, short transient constriction of blood flow occurs, which can cause a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This effect is more prominent in coffee drinkers who do not frequently consume caffeinated drinks. 

According to a review in the journal of the American college of cardiology, caffeine may have vasodilatory effects, which means it enhances blood flow in the vessels. The study also stated that mild to moderate caffeine consumption is not directly related to heart disease or elevated blood pressure. On the other hand, it can be linked to various positive effects on the body and lower the risk of death from various causes. 

Coffee allergy vs. coffee sensitivity

Some coffee-sensitive people incorrectly believe they’re allergic to it. Coffee sensitivity can cause its own troublesome symptoms, but is typically not life-threatening.

Symptoms of a coffee sensitivity can include:

  • feelings of jitteriness and unease
  • irritability
  • anxiety or nervousness
  • trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • upset stomach
  • abdominal cramps
  • elevated heartbeat or blood pressure
  • involuntary muscle spasms

Symptoms of coffee sensitivity usually go away if the person avoids drinking coffee.

People sensitive to coffee may have a stomach upset, or symptoms related to other problems may get worse. Coffee, for example, can exacerbate heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Caffeine in coffee will relax the sphincter at the bottom of the food pipe, causing leakage and irritation of stomach acid.

Allergies can be confused with symptoms triggered by excess caffeine or caffeine sensitivity. Many people who get sick from drinking coffee simply see the caffeine sensitivity effect.

People who do not drink caffeine regularly or those who are sensitive to caffeine can experience symptoms after relatively small amounts of caffeine, such as 1 cup of coffee or tea. If a person is not used to caffeinated beverages, symptoms can occur because their body is not used to process and remove the caffeine from the system.

READ Related Article:  Does Coffee Cause Inflammation?

Too much caffeine has similar effects to coffee allergy. Besides these symptoms, in someone who is sensitive to caffeine, too much caffeine may cause symptoms like:

  • chest pain
  • heart palpitations
  • mood swings, anger, or depression
  • numbness in the extremities
  • muscle pains
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches or migraines
  • delusions or hallucinations
  • cold sweats
  • flu-like symptoms
  • panic attacks

Although rare, caffeine itself can also be allergic. Some people can experience allergic reactions, which may lead to anaphylaxis.

Coffee beans contain several different substances that some people can react. For example, during growing and transportation, beans may have come into contact with pesticides or chemicals.

People who drink milk or cream coffee can respond to milk. Heavily sweetened beverages can react to sugar. Flavored syrups may also contain several other ingredients that may be responsible for allergy or intolerance symptoms.

Any new signs should be reported to a doctor or allergist immediately to discuss an action plan.

Caffeine and chest pain

Too much caffeine intake or moderate caffeine intake in sensitive individuals is linked to many side effects like anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and insomnia. It may be possible that some of these symptoms, especially when severe, might be misconstrued as chest pain. 

Coffee can worsen symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn, and these have similarities to chest pain. Therefore, individuals may experience chest pain and associated symptoms with excess caffeine intake.

Also, research reveals some reports of severe chest pain that were linked to caffeine. For example, a 19-year-old male with a two-year history of drinking caffeine-containing energy drinks suffered chest pain and a heart attack every day. While his constant and significantly high intake of caffeine was the suspected cause, the particular energy drink contained elevated taurine doses. It was not investigated whether this amino acid can be linked directly to the heart conditions or the interaction with coffee contributed to it. 

Warnings

Moderate caffeine intake is relatively safe for many people. However, If you are experiencing insomnia or are currently being treated for certain medical conditions, discuss your intended caffeine use with your doctor. Caffeine-containing pills can provide a high amount of caffeine, and such levels can be unsafe for you. Take such drugs only with a doctor’s recommendation and supervision.

Chest pain has numerous causes, and some could be dangerous and severe, so a doctor must assess any form of chest pain. If caffeine is the most likely cause of chest pain, cut back on the substance, or avoid it. Seek emergency medical help if you experience chest pain, chest tightness, or sharp crushing chest pain that radiates to the arm, neck, or back. Also, seek medical attention if chest pain is assigned by jaw or back pain, sweating, shortness of breath, or dizziness.

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Self-proclaimed coffee drinker. I would, on a typical day, start my day by grinding my coffee with a manual grinder and use a French Press as a starter (2 cups), then a pour-over in the afternoon (4 cups). I had my fair share as a barista but I prefer to drink it, not serve it.