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Caffeine Can Make Your Blood Pressure Climb

The next installment of Lifelines’ series on high blood pressure and how you can reduce your risk for this condition.

Whether it’s to jumpstart your day or to stay alert when working the night shift, if you have high blood pressure, think twice before reaching for that cup of coffee, can of soda or energy drink.

All of these beverages contain caffeine. So do a growing number of food products. Unfortunately, in addition to its ability to keep you awake and briefly boost your energy, caffeine can also make your blood pressure rise. While this spike is temporary, if you have high blood pressure – 140/90 mm Hg or higher – any increase can have serious consequences. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and its related conditions, including heart attack, stroke and heart failure. One in every three Americans and one in every five Canadians have high blood pressure. Among Laborers, heart disease is responsible for more deaths than any other illness or workplace injury.


Caffeine is found naturally in a number of plants including the coffee bean, tea leaf, kola nut and cacao pod. The stimulating effects of caffeine on the central nervous system – increased blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and urine output – begin within 15 minutes of consumption and can last for more than six hours. This is why consuming caffeine late in the day can interfere with sleep, which in itself can increase risk for high blood pressure.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adults who do not have high blood pressure can consume 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine daily without suffering any ill effects. That’s about four or five 6 oz. cups of coffee. Energy drinks contain between 80-400 mg of caffeine per serving, and with many sold in bottles or cans that hold more than one serving, it is very easy to consume more caffeine in one sitting than is considered safe. In addition, energy drinks can mask the effects of alcohol when the two are combined, giving drinkers the impression they are not impaired. The FDA is looking into the safety of energy drinks, an investigation prompted by reports of deaths that may have links to consuming these beverages.

If you have high blood pressure or elevated blood pressure, ask your health care provider whether you should reduce your consumption of caffeinated beverages and snacks.

The LHSFNA’s training manual, Nutrition & Fitness for Laborers, and the Nutrition & Fitness for Laborers and Build a Better Body brochures are designed to help Laborers improve their dietary and exercise habits, both of which can help lower high blood pressure. They can be ordered through the LHSFNA’s website by clicking on Publications.

Next month, a look at the effect of noise on blood pressure.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]

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