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Caffeine Withdrawal & Blood Pressure

by
author image Gail Morris
Gail Morris has been writing extensively since 1997. She completed a master's degree in nursing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and practiced in medicine for more than 20 years. Morris has published medical articles in peer-reviewed journals and now writes for various online publications and freelances for Internet marketers.
Caffeine Withdrawal & Blood Pressure
Two mugs of coffee. Photo Credit Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images

Caffeine is a drug found in many beverages, including energy drinks, soda, coffee and tea. You may already use caffeine during the day as a pick-me-up in your morning coffee or for a burst of energy in the mid-afternoon in an energy drink. The problem for many people often occurs when they attempt to stop using caffeine during the day and suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

Blood Pressure Control

Controlling your blood pressure to within normal limits is an important aspect of your overall health. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, high blood pressure is often a precursor to heart disease. When not properly controlled it can lead to heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure or premature death. Short-term elevations of blood pressure during withdrawal from drugs or medications do not cause these long-term health problems unless you already have an underlying medical condition.

Caffeine

Up to 90 percent of Americans report that they use caffeine on a daily basis, according to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. As a mild stimulant, there has been no evidence found that a normal intake can increase your risk of disease or illness. However, Oklahoma State University Safety Training does warn that your individual reaction to caffeine can result in difficulty sleeping at night, mood changes, heartburn, stomach upset or headaches. Those who have a higher intake will also experience withdrawal symptoms without their normal amount of caffeine per day.

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Addiction

Because caffeine is so readily available over-the-counter in beverages and medications, many do not consider it an addictive drug. However, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center warns since 1994 four studies have described populations that fulfill the criteria for DSM-IV addiction to caffeine. In a telephone survey, 30 percent of the respondents identified three or more criteria for dependence on caffeine. The most commonly reported symptom of addiction to caffeine was the persistent desire or inability to cut back on consumption of caffeine without help.

Impact

Dr. Sheldon Sheps from MayoClinic.com warns that caffeine does have an impact on blood pressure readings in individuals who already experience high blood pressure. Caffeine from two or three cups of coffee can raise the top number in your blood pressure by 3 to 14 mm Hg and the bottom number 4 to 13 mm Hg. Some people who regularly drink caffeinated drinks can have a higher blood pressure average than those who do not routinely drink these drinks. MayoClinic.com recommends that if your blood pressure is normally high, you should limit or eliminate caffeinated drinks from your diet.

Withdrawal

Removal of an addictive substance from your daily regimen will precipitate withdrawal symptoms. Doctors at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center list the most commonly reported symptoms in numerous double-blind studies of caffeine withdrawal. These symptoms include headache, fatigue, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, depression, irritability, anxiety, flu-like symptoms and impairments in cognitive performance. However, while caffeine will trigger changes in blood pressure while you are drinking it, there are no documented elevations or decreases in blood pressure during withdrawal. If you experienced an elevation in your blood pressure while drinking caffeinated beverages, it will return to your normal levels during withdrawal from caffeine.

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