Moderate coffee consumption offers protection against heart failure

June 26, 2012
coffee

While current American Heart Association heart failure prevention guidelines warn against habitual coffee consumption, some studies propose a protective benefit, and still others find no association at all. Amidst this conflicting information, research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center attempts to shift the conversation from a definitive yes or no, to a question of how much.

"Our results did show a possible benefit, but like with so many other things we consume, it really depends on how much coffee you drink," says lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, MPH, ScD, a post-doctoral fellow in the cardiovascular epidemiological unit at BIDMC. "And compared with no consumption, the strongest protection we observed was at about four European, or two eight-ounce American, servings of coffee per day."

The study published June 26 online in the Journal Circulation: , found that these moderate were at 11 percent lower risk of heart failure.

Data was analyzed from five previous studies – four conducted in Sweden, one in Finland – that examined the association between and heart failure. The self-reported data came from 140,220 participants and involved 6,522 heart failure events.

In a summary of the published literature, the authors found a "statistically significant J-shaped relationship" between habitual coffee consumption and heart failure, where protective benefits begin to increase with consumption maxing out at two eight-ounce American servings a day. Protection slowly decreases the more coffee is consumed until at five cups, there is no benefit and at more than five cups a day, there may be potential for harm.

It's unclear why moderate coffee consumption provides protection from heart failure, but the researchers say part of the answer may lie in the intersection between regular coffee drinking and two of the strongest risk factors for heart failure – diabetes and elevated blood pressure.

"There is a good deal of research showing that drinking coffee lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes, says senior author Murray Mittleman, MD, DrPH, a physician in the Cardiovascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of BIDMC's cardiovascular epidemiological research program. "It stands to reason that if you lower the risk of diabetes, you also lower the risk of heart failure."

There may also be a blood pressure benefit. Studies have consistently shown that light coffee and caffeine consumption are known to raise blood pressure. "But at that moderate range of consumption, people tend to develop a tolerance where drinking coffee does not pose a risk and may even be protective against elevated ," says Mittleman.

This study was not able to assess the strength of the coffee, nor did it look at caffeinated versus non-caffeinated coffee.

"There is clearly more research to be done," says Mostofsky. "But in the short run, this data may warrant a change to the guidelines to reflect that coffee consumption, in moderation, may provide some protection from heart failure."

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6 comments

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Kedas
not rated yet Jun 26, 2012
Doesn't evolution make us require some coffee just like any other drug. Even if not taken coffee to begin with was the better evolution path.
ziphead
not rated yet Jun 26, 2012
Come again?

"Kedas: Doesn't evolution make us require some coffee just like any other drug. Even if not taken coffee to begin with was the better evolution path."

Kedas
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
Since our DNA evolution changes based on our environment, would it be such a big stretch to say that the long habit of taking coffee did change this DNA selection a little?
Obviously the same would be true for alcohol.
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2012
mmmm, Coffee is high in caffeine which some other plants also use as its a natural pesticide to dissuade insects from attacking the plant. One could suggest that high caffeine intake might well provide some protection from bed-bugs at the very least. The strange side-effect that it is a stimulant for humans is most interesting but, from personal long experience of caffeine I can report there are a few times you dont want to take it for a few days and especially so if the bedbug problem has already been solved ;-)

One can see the combination of caffeine use by early man in respect of increasing focus for issues such as planning and alertness along with waste use to repel insects of value to health as some insects carry pathogens...

ie. A little coffee grounds in various places turns ants away, better to do that than kill any ants as ants and termites are natural enemies and in urban & rural areas the encouragement of ants is a damn good thing to help reduce termite ingress,

Cheers
A2G
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
Something that must be considered in any study like this is the makeup of the person consuming the coffee or other substance regardless of how much they consume. i.e. possible cause and effect reversal.

Someone who would tend to drink a lot of coffee is also more likely to not be taking care of themselves in other ways as well. A heavy coffee drinker is more likely to smoke a lot, not exercise, etc.

A non coffee drinker is also more likely to have other lifestyle habits that would influence their health for the positive or negative.

Then moderate coffee drinkers (my group) would most likely also have a lifestyle that would affect the study outcome. Coffee can be a help in getting up and being active physically which would benefit the health for the positive.

As for me, all things in moderation is my motto, except of course hard core drugs or big pharma crap unless I have carefully studied all the risks and benefits for myself.

You cannot isolate one factor in a system like this.
A2G
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
I suggest this. When someone goes to the doctor or ER they end up waiting, usually a long time. I recently had to wait for hours after taking my mother to the ER for a minor problem she was having on the weekend. So all these people are just sitting there anyways.

Why not give them a simple multiple choice survey to fill out that would be anonymous, i.e. their name is not attached.

Ask them to answer a lot of multiple choice questions about what they eat, smoke, drugs they use, exercise, etc. in the simplest possible way. It could be done on paper or even online at home. In fact anyone could do it online. Get as much data as possible from as many people as possible.

Then all of this data could be easily compiled in a way that would show how those with the life factors most like you are doing. We wouldn't need all these isolated studies which can be meaningless without the other lifestyle factors considered.

I would find this comprehensive study very informative.

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