A recent study suggested drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day might reduce your chances of heart failure. The findings, which are the result of dietary analysis of three well-known heart disease studies, were published in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal.
In the United States, heart failure, coronary artery disease, and stroke are some of the top causes of death from heart disease. “While smoking, age, and high blood pressure are among the most well-known heart disease risk factors, unidentified risk factors for heart disease remain,” David Kao, a senior author of the study and an assistant professor of cardiology and the medical director at the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, noted in a news release.
Kao and his colleagues used machine learning through the American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform to examine data from the original cohort of the Framingham Heart Study.
That data was then referenced against data from both the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and the Cardiovascular Health Study to help confirm the researchers’ findings. Each study included at least 10 years of follow-up. Collectively, the studies provided information on more than 21,000 US adult participants.
“The risks and benefits of drinking coffee have been topics of ongoing scientific interest due to the popularity and frequency of consumption worldwide,” Linda Van Horn, professor and chief of the Department of Preventive Medicine’s Nutrition Division at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said in the release.
Researchers categorized consumption as zero cups per day, one cup per day, two cups per day, and less than or equal to three cups per day to analyze the outcomes of drinking caffeinated coffee. Across the three studies, coffee consumption was self-reported, and no standard units of measurement were available.
The analysis revealed:
- In all three studies, people who reported drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day had an associated decreased long-term heart failure risk.
- In the Framingham Heart and the Cardiovascular Health studies, the risk of heart failure over the course of decades decreased by 5% to 12% per cup of coffee each day compared with participants who consumed no coffee.
- In the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, the risk of heart failure did not change between zero to one cup of coffee per day; however, the risk of heart failure was about 30% lower in people who drank at least two cups a day.
- Drinking decaffeinated coffee appeared to have an adverse effect on heart failure risk, significantly increasing the risk of heart failure in the Framingham Heart Study. In the Cardiovascular Health Study, however, there was no increase or decrease in the risk of heart failure associated with drinking decaffeinated coffee. When the researchers examined this further, they found caffeine consumption from any source appeared to be associated with decreased heart failure risk, and caffeine was at least part of the reason for the apparent benefit from drinking more coffee.
“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising,” Kao said in the release. “The general population often considers coffee and caffeine 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.
“However, there is not yet enough clear evidence to recommend increasing coffee consumption to decrease the risk of heart disease with the same strength and certainty as stopping smoking, losing weight or exercising.”
It’s important to point out that certain study limitations may have impacted the analysis findings. For example, the report does not explicitly say in which region of the world the coffee consumed was produced. Other factors are the different brewing methods that may have been used and how many ounces per cup were used during the clinical trials.
In addition, researchers cautioned that the original studies had detailed only caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee; therefore, these findings may not apply to energy drinks, caffeinated teas, soda, and other food items with caffeine, including chocolate.
This study was funded by the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The full study is published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.