Drinking coffee regularly and in moderation can reduce the risk of heart failure, according to an analysis.
Researchers analyzed previous studies on the link between coffee consumption and heart failure, and found that moderate coffee drinking as part of a daily routine may be linked with a significantly lower risk of heart failure. In contrast, indulging excessively may be linked with an increased chance of developing serious heart problems.
“While there is a commonly held belief that regular coffee consumption may be dangerous to heart health, our research suggests that the opposite may be true,” Murray Mittleman, MD, DrPH, the studys senior author and director of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said in a news release issued by the American Heart Association.
“As with so many things, moderation appears to be the key here, too.”
For a report that appeared June 26 on the website of the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, researchers reviewed five high-quality prospective studies of coffee consumption and heart failure risk published between 2001 and 2011. Combined, the studies included 6,522 heart failure events among 140,220 men and women in Sweden and Finland.
The researchers defined moderate consumption as four Northern European servings per day, the equivalent of about two typical 8-ounce American servings. Excessive coffee consumption was 10 Northern European servings per day, the equivalent to four or five servings from popular American coffee restaurant chains (servings sizes vary from 9 to 20 fluid ounces per serving).
“Compared to no consumption, the strongest inverse association [with heart failure] was seen for four [Northern European] servings per day,” with “a potentially higher risk at levels of consumption,” the researchers wrote.
Researchers did not account for brew strength, but noted coffee typically is weaker in the United States than in Europe. They also did not differentiate between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, noting most of the coffee consumed in Sweden and Finland is caffeinated.
“There are many factors that play into a persons risk of heart failure, but moderate coffee consumption doesnt appear to be one of them,” said Elizabeth Mostofsky, ScD, the studys lead author and a research fellow at Beth Israel.
“This is good news for coffee drinkers, of course, but it also may warrant changes to the current heart failure prevention guidelines, which suggest that coffee drinking may be risky for heart patients. It now appears that a couple of cups of coffee per day may actually help protect against heart failure.”
According to American Heart Association guidelines, heart failure patients should consume no more than a cup or two of coffee or another caffeinated beverage a day.
The researchers did not definitively say why coffee offers a heart-health benefit. Evidence suggests that frequent coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to the beverages caffeine, which may put them at a decreased risk of developing hypertension. Habitual coffee consumption also has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, with most studies showing the greatest reduction in risk with higher levels of coffee consumption.
“Diabetes and hypertension are among the most important risk factors for heart failure, so it stands to reason that reducing ones odds of developing either of them in turn reduces ones chance of heart failure,” Mittleman said.
To read the study abstract and download a PDF of the study, visit http://bit.ly/KL6bCI.