Can Decaf Coffee Cause High Blood Pressure?

Most experts agree that caffeine of coffee can cause a significant temporary increase in blood pressure (BP). Though the effect is temporary, but it may be dangerous for those with hypertension (a medical term used to call high blood pressure condition). How about with decaf coffee (decaffeinated coffee)? Does it also have the same effect and can cause hypertension?

Decaf coffee – What actually is it?

In an effort to avoid and limit caffeine due to you have certain health condition such as hypertension, heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats problem), or if you are taking medicines that are advised to limit /avoid caffeine – you may turn to decaf coffee.

As the label ‘decaf’ implies, it refers to decaffeinated which means coffee that has been processed to have less caffeine.

The good news, the mechanisms to make decaffeinated coffee is now safe. Several years ago, some people doubt about the safety issue of making decaf coffee that can cause negative health impact! Today, few different techniques in production are available.

In the past, the use of solvents is needed to make decaffeination. Nowadays, a new modified machine is designed to use carbon dioxide (CO2) as a solvent to help provide a direct decaffeination. The coffee beans can be soaked in order to remove most of its caffeine in compressed carbon dioxide.

How much caffeine in a cup of coffee and a cup of decaf coffee?

A cup of coffee (237 gram or 8 fl oz) can contain about 95 mg of caffeine. How about with decaffeinated coffee?

The answer may vary because each brand of decaffeinated beverages can have its own guideline in making the product. But in general, the label of decaf coffee must be qualified to get at least 97 % or more of its caffeine removed! The following is the table for the amounts of caffeine in some popular types of coffee.


How does caffeine affect both systolic and diastolic pressure?

When you measure your blood pressure (BP) with a device called sphygmomanometer, you will find two different numbers given in mm Hg; top number (systolic pressure) and bottom number (diastolic pressure). The pressure inside your blood vessels when your heart at rest is called diastolic pressure, and when your heart beats or contracting is called systolic pressure.

While many studies have confirmed that caffeine can cause a temporary increase in both systolic and diastolic pressures, but there is still no a satisfied answer of how it occurs.

There are several theories that can explain this issue – and the following are some of them:

  1. Caffeine may be able to trigger the adrenal glands to make and release more adrenaline /aldosterone hormone which then will make the kidneys to retain more water and salt – as a result, systolic and diastolic pressure can increase.
  2. Other experts have opinion that caffeine may have contribution to block an essential hormone that can help keep blood vessels (especially arteries) widened!

So, will decaf coffee cause high blood pressure?

Again, in fact this kind of coffee is actually not 100 % free of caffeine. If you drink it too much, your effort of limiting caffeine can be useless.

The dose of caffeine from drinking decaffeinated coffee for about 5-10 cups may be equal to about one or two cups of caffeinated coffee – according to a small research conducted by the University of Florida in 2006..

Therefore, if your concern is to limit caffeine intake as less as possible, drink decaf coffee appropriately! Regardless to the issue of caffeine in decaffeinated coffee, the issue of caffeine itself that have or haven’t contribution in increasing the risk of hypertension is also still debatable.

Experts only know that caffeine can temporarily increase blood pressure – as noted before. But there is still no scientific evidence to confirm that drinking caffeine in long term can increase the risk of hypertension. A long-term research written in an article published in the official site of the Harvard Medical School found that drinking coffee may not have any effect in causing hypertension over time.

Moreover, the effect of caffeine can vary from person to person. The way of your body to react to caffeine may be closely associated with the amounts of caffeine you are used to drinking.

If you get used with regularly drinking coffee for 2-3 cups a day, your body may be less sensitive to the negative effect of caffeine. On the other hand, if you don’t get used of drinking coffee regularly, your body is more likely to become more sensitive to caffeine. It’s possible that the body can develop a tolerance to the hypertensive effects of coffee after a while.

image_illustration38Other factors that may affect your body to react to caffeine include:

  1. Age. Older adults are more sensitive to the hypertensive effect of caffeine than younger adults.
  2. Your body mass.
  3. Gender – women may be less susceptible to the caffeine’s hypertensive effect than men.
  4. Certain chronic health problems, like anxiety disorders.
  5. And certain medicines that you are taking. Some side effects of certain medicines may get worse if you get too much dietary caffeine.

Nowadays, drinking coffee is a part of daily routine of some people (adults). In general, there is nothing wrong with this habit as long as your body can tolerate the amounts of caffeine you take daily.

How to know that your blood pressure (BP) is sensitive to caffeine?

To see how far caffeine give impact on your BP, measure your BP with a sphygmomanometer within 30 minutes to an hour of drinking a cup of coffee.

If the result of the test shows 5 to 10 points of raised blood pressure, this may point that your body is sensitive to the BP raising effects of caffeine!

If you get used of drinking coffee regularly, and you are asked by your doctor to reduce or even stop drinking it, reduce it gradually in order to reduce the risk of withdrawal headache or ask your doctor for more advice!

How much caffeine is considered too much?

In general, about 200 to 300 mg of caffeine per day is the moderate doses of recommended daily allowance (RDA) for most healthy adults.

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