Does Caffeine Cause High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is associated with heart disease and an increased risk of diabetes, as well as other related health problems. It forces the heart to overwork itself trying to keep you alive, which could actually lead to a heart attack — or worse.

It’s widely known that caffeine raises your heart rate, makes you jittery, and does things to your brain that makes you feel like you have superpowers. But does this mean it has a direct effect on your blood pressure — or that it could be putting your health at risk?

Here’s how caffeine may affect your blood pressure, other common causes of the potentially serious health condition, and how much caffeine is actually safe to consume on a daily basis.

What causes high blood pressure?

High blood pressure

High blood pressure | Ronstik/iStock/Getty Images

There is no one single “cause” of high blood pressure. Rather, there are a number of what health experts call risk factors that can contribute to the development of the condition. These are factors, such as age, that make you more likely to get high blood pressure.

Some risk factors may apply to you — and there’s nothing you can do to change them. Others are “flexible,” meaning you can make changes that minimize their effect.

The most common high blood pressure risk factors include:

  • Age (50 or above)
  • Someone in your family has it
  • You don’t exercise
  • Weight (people who are overweight or obese are more likely to have it)
  • Alcohol overuse
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor eating habits.

Caffeine doesn’t always appear on lists of potential causes for high blood pressure. This does not mean drinking excessive amounts of it isn’t a bad thing — too much of anything is likely to harm you in some way.

However, there’s a lot of debate over whether or not regular caffeine consumption plays a significant role in the development of high blood pressure. Let’s look at the facts.

Does caffeine raise blood pressure?

In the short-term, caffeine causes blood pressure spikes even if you don’t have high blood pressure — though scientists don’t understand why this happens.

Research has also found that this effect is most prominent in people who aren’t used to drinking coffee. Caffeine appears to affect blood pressure less severely in people who consume caffeine regularly.

However, research has yet to find a strong association between caffeine consumption and a diagnosis of high blood pressure. It’s possible that regularly drinking beverages that contain caffeine as well as sugar — may align with a dietary lifestyle that often leads to high blood pressure.

Some people can also be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine on blood pressure than others. Some can drink caffeine daily and experience no ill effects, while others may have caffeine to blame for one of many reasons they’ve developed high blood pressure. Everyone is different.

It’s probably best to check with your doctor to determine if you should limit your caffeine intake or exclude it from your diet completely. You can also monitor your blood pressure as you consume caffeine — or gradually reduce your consumption — to see if it changes.

How much caffeine can you have in one day?

Starbucks coffee

Starbucks coffee | payphoto/ iStock Editorial/ Getty Images Plus

Experts typically recommend limiting your caffeine intake to no more than 400 milligrams maximum per day. This includes coffee, energy drinks, and even certain snack foods (such as chocolate) that may contain caffeine.

Mayo Clinic recommends limiting your caffeine consumption to no more than 200 milligrams on average per day. For context, there are about 100 milligrams of caffeine in every 8 ounce serving of brewed coffee. Other beverages — including energy and soft drinks — might have less or more per serving. For example:

  • Diet Coke (20 oz): 76 milligrams
  • 5-hour energy (2 oz.): 200 milligrams
  • Pepsi Zero (20 oz.): 115 milligrams

Most experts agree that moderation is always your best option. If you want to push the limit and drink the equivalent of four full cups of brewed coffee every day, that’s up to you. But excess, when it comes to anything you put in your body, will almost always lead to something you’ll wish you never got.