The Cardiovascular Effects of Methylxanthines
In the concentration range that is normally achieved in humans, e.g., after the drinking of coffee or in patients treated with theophylline, the cardiovascular effects of methylxanthines are primarily due to antagonism of adenosine A1 and A2 receptors. Inhibition of phosphodiesterases or mobilization of intracellular calcium requires much higher concentrations. In conscious humans, acute exposure to caffeine results in an increase in blood pressure by an increased total peripheral resistance, and a slight decrease in heart rate. This overall hemodynamic response is composed of direct effects of caffeine on vascular tone, on myocardial contractility and conduction, and on the sympathetic nervous system. Caffeine is the most widely consumed methylxanthine, mainly derived from coffee intake. Regular coffee consumption can affect various traditional cardiovascular risk factors, including a slight increase in blood pressure, an increase in plasma cholesterol and homocysteine levels, and a reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Although most prospective studies have not reported an association between coffee consumption and coronary heart disease, these findings do not exclude that the acute hemodynamic and neurohumoral effects of coffee consumption could have an adverse effect in selected patient groups who are more vulnerable for these effects, based on their genetic profile or medication use.
KeywordsAdenosine Blood pressure Caffeine Cardiovascular effects
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