According to studies presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Annual Scientific Session, drinking coffee – particularly two to three cups per day – is not only related with a lower risk of heart disease and harmful cardiac rhythms, but also with living longer. These patterns were observed in both patients with and without cardiovascular disease. The studies, which are the largest to look at coffee’s potential impact in heart disease and death, provide confidence that coffee isn’t linked to new or worsening heart disease and may instead be heart-protective, according to the researchers.
“Because coffee can increase heart rate, some people are concerned that drinking it can induce or worsen certain heart problems. This is where widespread medical recommendations to abstain from coffee use may originate from. However, our findings indicate that daily coffee consumption should not be discouraged, but rather included as part of a healthy diet for people with and without heart disease “According to Peter M. Kistler, MD, senior author of the study and professor and head of arrhythmia research at the Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne, Australia. “We discovered that coffee consumption had either a neutral effect (meaning it did no damage) or was related with advantages to heart health.”
Kistler and his colleagues analyzed data from the UK BioBank, a large-scale prospective database containing health information from over 500,000 people who were followed for at least ten years. Researchers examined the relationship between varying levels of coffee consumption, ranging from one cup to more than six cups per day, and heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke; and total and heart-related deaths in people with and without cardiovascular disease.
Patients were grouped by how much coffee they reported drinking each day: 0, <1, 1, 2-3, 4-5, >5 cups/day. Coffee drinking was assessed from questionnaires completed upon entry into the registry. Overall, they either found no effect or, in many cases, significant reductions in cardiovascular risk after controlling for exercise, alcohol, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure that could also play a role in heart health and longevity.
Coffee drinkers can feel certain that they can continue to enjoy their favorite beverage even if they have heart disease. Coffee is the most commonly used cognitive booster; it wakes you up, makes you psychologically sharper, and is an essential part of many people’s everyday life.Peter M. Kistler
The first study looked at data from 382,535 people without known heart disease to investigate if coffee consumption played a role in the development of heart disease or stroke during a 10-year period. The average age of the participants was 57, and half were female. In general, drinking two to three cups of coffee per day was related with the most benefit, resulting in a 10% to 15% lower risk of getting coronary heart disease, heart failure, a cardiac rhythm disorder, or dying for any reason.
The risk of stroke or heart-related death was lowest among people who drank one cup of coffee a day. Researchers did observe a U-shaped relationship with coffee intake and new heart rhythm problems. The maximum benefit was seen among people drinking two to three cups of coffee a day with less benefit seen among those drinking more or less.
The second research enrolled 34,279 people who had some sort of cardiovascular illness at the start. Coffee consumption of two to three cups per day was connected with a decreased risk of death when compared to no coffee. Importantly, any amount of coffee consumed was not related with an increased risk of heart rhythm disorders such as atrial fibrillation (AFib) or atrial flutter, which Kistler said is frequently what clinicians are concerned about. Drinking coffee was connected with a decreased risk of death among the 24,111 participants included in the study who had an arrhythmia at the start. People with AFib who drank one cup of coffee each day, for example, were approximately 20% less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers.
“Clinicians often have some trepidation about persons with known cardiovascular disease or arrhythmias continuing to drink coffee,” Kistler said. “They often err on the side of caution and advise them to quit drinking it altogether due to fears that it may induce dangerous heart rhythms.” “However, our research suggests that regular coffee consumption is safe and may be part of a healthy diet for those with heart disease.”
Although two to three cups of coffee per day appeared to be the most favorable overall, Kistler advised people not to increase their coffee consumption, especially if it causes them anxiety or discomfort.
“There are a variety of mechanisms by which coffee may reduce mortality and have these beneficial benefits on cardiovascular disease,” he explained. “Coffee drinkers can feel certain that they can continue to enjoy their favorite beverage even if they have heart disease. Coffee is the most commonly used cognitive booster; it wakes you up, makes you psychologically sharper, and is an essential part of many people’s everyday life.”
So, how may coffee beans help the heart? People frequently associate coffee with caffeine, yet coffee beans contain over 100 biologically active chemicals. According to Kistler, these compounds can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, enhance insulin sensitivity, accelerate metabolism, limit fat absorption in the gut, and block receptors known to be implicated in irregular cardiac rhythms.
In a third trial, researchers examined to see if there were any changes in the link between coffee and cardiovascular disease based on whether the coffee was instant, ground, caffeinated, or decaffeinated. They discovered that two to three cups of coffee per day were related with the lowest risk of arrhythmias, artery blockages in the heart, stroke, or heart failure, regardless of whether they drank ground or instant coffee.
Death rates were lower across the board for all coffee types. With the exception of heart failure, decaf coffee had no beneficial effects on incidence arrhythmia but did reduce cardiovascular illness. According to Kistler, the findings indicate that caffeinated coffee is preferable across the board and that there are no cardiovascular benefits to choosing decaf coffee over caffeinated coffee.
These studies have some significant drawbacks. Researchers were unable to account for any creamers, milk, or sugar drank, nor were they able to control for dietary components that may play a role in cardiovascular disease. Because the majority of the participants were white, more research is needed to discover whether these findings apply to other populations.
Finally, coffee consumption was based on self-report via a questionnaire administered at the start of the trial. This should be taken into account when evaluating the study’s findings, while Kistler added that research indicates that people’s food patterns do not alter greatly in maturity or over time. According to Kistler, the findings should be verified in randomized studies.