“While smoking, age and high blood pressure are among the most well-known heart disease risk factors, unidentified risk factors for heart disease remain,” according to David P. Kao, senior author of this new study and assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Colorado.
Kao and colleagues examined data from three studies: the Framingham Heart Study, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, and the Cardiovascular Health Study. The studies provided info on more than 21,000 adults. Each study included at least 10 years of follow-up on participants.
More coffee is linked to lower risk
To analyse the outcomes of drinking caffeinated coffee, researchers categorised consumption as 0 cups per day, 1 cup per day, 2 cups per day, and 3 cups per day. These are the three main findings.
1. In all three studies, people who reported drinking 1 or more cups of caffeinated coffee had an associated decreased long-term heart failure risk.
2. In the Framingham Heart and the Cardiovascular Health studies, the risk of heart failure over the course of decades decreased by 5-12% per cup of coffee per day, compared with no coffee consumption.
3. In the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, the risk of heart failure did not change between 0 to 1 cup of coffee per day. However, it was about 30% lower in people who drank at least 2 cups a day.
Caffeine has something to do with the observed benefits
When the researchers tried to compare the effects of regular coffee and decaf coffee, they found that caffeine consumption from any source appeared to be associated with decreased heart failure risk. Caffeine was at least part of the reason for the benefit from drinking more coffee.
“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising. Coffee and caffeine are often considered by the general population to be ‘bad’ for the heart because people associate them with palpitations, high blood pressure, etc. The consistent relationship between increasing caffeine consumption and decreasing heart failure risk turns that assumption on its head,” Kao said.
Another good reason to enjoy your coffee
“There is not yet enough clear evidence to recommend increasing coffee consumption to decrease risk of heart disease with the same strength and certainty as stopping smoking, losing weight or exercising,” said Kao.
“While unable to prove causality, it is intriguing that these three studies suggest that drinking coffee is associated with a decreased risk of heart failure and that coffee can be part of a healthy dietary pattern if consumed plain, without added sugar and high fat dairy products such as cream,” said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D.N., immediate past chairperson of the American Heart Association.