Drinking coffee has been associated with health benefits such as a reduced likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease or certain cancers. But caffeine in medications may not be so good for you.
Korean researchers report that people who had suffered a bleeding stroke were more likely to have been taking drugs containing caffeine. They compared these patients to others who were hospitalized for different health conditions and to a third group who were healthy. Those taking caffeinated medications such as wake-up pills, cold remedies or pain relievers were two and a half times more likely to suffer a stroke. This risk was most noticeable in those who did not usually drink coffee. People who drank as many as three cups of coffee daily were not at increased risk for such hemorrhagic strokes.
Perhaps part of the problem may be traced to the decongestant PPA, known as phenylpropanolamine. It is no longer allowed in the U.S. because of a documented risk of strokes, but it is still found in some of the Korean medicines studied. Taken with caffeine, PPA might be especially dangerous.