Moderate Amounts of Coffee May Do Your Heart Good

A study explores a link between coffee and a lower risk of heart failure.

Drinking about two cups of coffee a day may be associated with a lower risk of heart failure, a study finds. (Photo: Aagamia/Getty Images)

Jun 28, 2012
Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal and got in a boxing ring.

Good news, coffee devotees: A couple of cups of joe a day might decrease your risk of heart failure.

Researchers analyzed data in five previous studies that looked at the association between coffee consumption and heart failure. The studies were published between 2001 and 2011, and included a total 140,220 men and women who had 6,522 heart failure events.

Overall, moderate coffee drinking was linked with a lower risk of heart failure. Moderate consumption was defined as about two 8-ounce cups a day, the amount associated with an 11 percent drop in risk.

The strength of the coffee the study subjects drank wasn’t accounted for, nor were caffeine or decaf drinkers separated out. But the authors noted that most people in Sweden and Finland, from where the studies originated, prefer their coffee caffeinated.

“There are many factors that play into a person's risk of heart failure, but moderate coffee consumption doesn't appear to be one of them," said lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, a research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, in a news release.

Before brewing another pot, note that the studies found correlation and not causality. Also, in the meta-analysis, the study authors said that drinking five to six cups of coffee a day showed no benefits and could be dangerous.

The American Heart Assn. gives a nod to coffee on its Web site, saying, “Moderate coffee drinking (one to two cups per day) doesn't seem to be harmful.” But it also says that results from studies examining a link between coffee, caffeine and coronary heart disease are “conflicting.”

What is it about that dark brown liquid that may offer the heart benefits? Other studies have shown that there might be a relationship between drinking coffee and a decreased chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart rhythm abnormalities in men and strokes in women.

“Diabetes and hypertension are among the most important risk factors for heart failure, so it stands to reason that reducing one's odds of developing either of them, in turn, reduces one's chance of heart failure," senior author Dr. Murray Mittleman said in the release.

The study was published online this week in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

What health benefits, if any, do you think you get from drinking coffee? Let us know in the comments.

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