Three related studies that combined comprise what the authors believe is the largest analysis of coffee’s role in heart disease and mortality show excellent news for regular coffee drinkers.
The studies, presented in three subsequent days last month at the annual American College of Cardiology (ACC) convention in Washington D.C., found that daily coffee consumption was associated with lower risk of heart disease and dangerous heart rhythms, and also with overall longevity.
One of the studies also found that coffee consumption is associated with improved outcomes for people with existing cardiovascular diseases.
“Because coffee can quicken heart rate, some people worry that drinking it could trigger or worsen certain heart issues,” lead author Peter M. Kistler of the Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne, Australia, said in an announcement from the ACC. “This is where general medical advice to stop drinking coffee may come from. But our data suggest that daily coffee intake shouldn’t be discouraged, but rather included as a part of a healthy diet for people with and without heart disease.”
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Kistler was one of 12 authors credited in each of the three studies, with all contributors hailing from the Alfred Hospital or its related medical research institute The Baker Institute. Funding for the studies, which were published this month in a supplementary issue of the ACC journal, was not disclosed.
The three studies all culled data from the UK Biobank, a large-scale database with information from more than half a million participants who have received follow-ups for at least 10 years.
The UK Biobank has provided the foundation for a wealth of coffee-related research in recent years, including additional large-scaled studies on heart health, as well as major studies associating coffee consumption with liver health and decreased dementia.
Involving 382,535 people with an average age of 57, the first study examined people with no known heart disease. People who reported drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day were found to have a 10-15% lower risk of developing heart disease or of dying compared to non coffee drinkers. Less benefit was seen for participants who drank more or less coffee per day, although risk of stroke or heart-related death was lowest among people who drank one cup of coffee per day.
The second study involved 34,279 individuals who had some form of cardiovascular disease. Coffee drinking was associated with less likelihood of death within the study period, and it was not associated with higher risk of heart rhythm problems.
The third study explored the associations between heart health and coffee type, with lower rates of death found among all coffee types (instant, ground, caffeinated, decaffeinated). The authors found that caffeinated coffee provided the most favorable outcomes, “with no cardiovascular benefits to choosing decaf over caffeinated coffees.”
The authors noted several important limitations of the studies, including the fact that many of the participants were predominantly white, and that additional dietary factors, including cream or sugar as coffee supplements, were not controlled.
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