In a study from the Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart Institute, scientists found that drinking coffee—particularly two to three cups a day—is not only associated with a lower risk of heart disease and dangerous heart rhythms but also with living longer.
These trends held true for both people with and without cardiovascular disease.
The analyses provide reassurance that coffee isn’t tied to new or worsening heart disease and may actually be heart protective.
In the study, the team used data from the UK BioBank, a large-scale prospective database with health information from over half a million people who were followed for at least 10 years.
They looked at varying levels of coffee consumption ranging from up to a cup to more than six cups a day and the link with heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); heart disease, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke; and total and heart-related deaths among people both with and without cardiovascular disease.
The researchers found in general, having two to three cups of coffee a day was linked to the greatest benefit, a 10%-15% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, heart failure, a heart rhythm problem, 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 between coffee intake and new heart rhythm problems.
The maximum benefit was found in people drinking two to three cups of coffee a day with less benefit seen among those drinking more or less.
The team also checked 34,279 people who had some form of cardiovascular disease before the study. Coffee intake of two to three cups a day was associated with lower odds of dying compared with having no coffee.
Importantly, consuming any amount of coffee was not linked to a higher risk of heart rhythm problems, including atrial fibrillation (AFib) or atrial flutter.
Among the 24,111 people who had arrhythmia before the study, drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death.
For example, people with AFib who drank one cup of coffee a day were nearly 20% less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers.
This study shows that regular coffee intake is safe and could be part of a healthy diet for people with heart disease.
Although two to three cups of coffee a day seemed to be the most favorable overall, the team says that people shouldn’t increase their coffee intake, particularly if it makes them feel anxious or uncomfortable.
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The study was conducted by Peter M. Kistler et al and presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Annual Scientific Session.
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