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, according to studies being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Annual Scientific Session. These trends held true for both people with and without cardiovascular disease. Researchers said the analyses — the largest to look at coffee’s potential role in heart disease and death — provide reassurance that drinking it isn’t tied to new or worsening heart disease and may actually be heart protective.
Because coffee can quicken heart rate, some people worry that drinking it could trigger or worsen certain heart issues. This is where general medical advice to stop drinking it may come from. But our data suggest that drinking 2-3 cups each day shouldn’t be discouraged, but rather included as a part of a healthy diet for people with and without heart disease. The study found coffee drinking had either a neutral effect — meaning that it did no harm — or was associated with benefits to heart health.
Clinicians generally have some apprehension about people with known cardiovascular disease or arrhythmias continuing to drink it, so they often err on the side of caution and advise them to stop drinking it altogether due to fears that it may trigger dangerous heart rhythms. But this study shows that regular 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, people shouldn’t increase their intake, particularly if it makes them feel anxious or uncomfortable. For example, people with AFib who drank one cup a day were nearly 20% less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers.
So how might coffee beans benefit the heart? People often equate coffee with caffeine, but coffee beans actually have over 100 biologically active compounds. These substances can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, boost metabolism, inhibit the gut’s absorption of fat and block receptors known to be involved with abnormal heart rhythms.
Decaf coffee did not have favorable effects against incident arrhythmia but did reduce cardiovascular disease, with the exception of heart failure. The findings suggest caffeinated coffee is preferable across the board, and there are no cardiovascular benefits to choosing decaf over caffeinated coffees.
There is a whole range of mechanisms through which coffee may reduce mortality and have these favorable effects on cardiovascular disease. Coffee drinkers should feel reassured that they can continue to enjoy it even if they have heart disease. Coffee is the most common cognitive enhancer — it wakes you up, makes you mentally sharper and it’s a very important component of many people’s daily lives.
Source: American College of Cardiology