Q. Ten years ago I experienced atrial fibrillation three times in one month. It never recurred until recently.
My wife has suggested that I should refrain from eating or drinking anything that contains caffeine. I dislike coffee but I do enjoy drinking good green tea. Does it contain caffeine? How about chocolate? Thanks for your advice.
A. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in the upper chambers of the heart. That’s why doctors try to reverse the arrhythmia or prescribe blood-thinning medicine.
Your wife’s advice to avoid caffeine is common but unsubstantiated. One epidemiological study found no connection between caffeine consumption and the risk of atrial fib (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March, 2005). An experiment in dogs suggested that caffeine might actually be beneficial (Journal of Electrocardiology, Oct. 2006).
Green tea and chocolate both contain much less caffeine than coffee. Moderate consumption should not pose a problem, but do check with your doctor.