Whenever I mention decaf coffee, I’m asked why I drink it. Here’s the answer, once and for all, so I can point people to it: I have a minor heart condition.

My heart has a small defect causing an abnormal electrical focus, which triggers periodic atrial ectopic beats, and occasional episodes of atrial flutter. The flutter happens a couple of times per year. The ectopic beats are my many-times-daily companions. Essentially, I have a superfluous beat-initiator, which can put my upper heart into a very fast loop that I have to reset (I don’t have a reset button; I use vagal manoeuvres, most often the mammalian diving reflex — i.e. dunking my head in water).

I’ve never used medication or had surgery for this (they’re options, though, if it worsens). What I did was quit caffeine, and get a lot more cardiovascular exercise, both of which make the flutter less likely to happen — hence the decaf.

It’s scary when I have an episode, but with management and some luck, the condition will hopefully never cause a life-threatening arrhythmia. That’s the reason for the decaf.