Dietary information from 3 large, well-known heart disease studies suggests drinking 1 or more cups of caffeinated coffee may reduce heart failure risk, according to research published in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal.

“The risks and benefits of drinking coffee have been topics of ongoing scientific interest due to the popularity and frequency of consumption worldwide,” said Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, professor and chief of the Department of Preventive Medicine’s Nutrition Division at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, in a press release. “Studies reporting associations with outcomes remain relatively limited due to inconsistencies in diet assessment and analytical methodologies, as well as inherent problems with self-reported dietary intake.”

The research team used machine learning through the American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform to examine data from the original cohort of the Framingham Heart Study and referenced it against data from both the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and the Cardiovascular Health Study to help confirm their findings. Each study included approximately 10 years of follow-up, with the studies providing information on more than 21,000 US adult participants.

To analyze the outcomes of drinking caffeinated coffee, researchers categorized consumption as 0 cups per day, 1 cup per day, 2 cups per day, and more than or equal to 3 cups per day. Across the 3 studies, coffee consumption was self-reported, and no standard unit of measure was available, according to the study authors.

In all 3 studies, people who reported drinking 1 or more cups of caffeinated coffee 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 per day of coffee, compared with no coffee consumption.

In the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, the risk of heart failure did not change between 0 and 1 cup per day of coffee; however, it was approximately 30% lower in people who drank at least 2 cups a day. Further, drinking decaffeinated coffee appeared to have an opposite effect on heart failure risk, significantly increasing the risk of heart failure in the Framingham Heart Study, according to the study authors.

In the Cardiovascular Health Study, there was no increase or decrease in risk of heart failure associated with drinking decaffeinated coffee. The researchers found that 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 benefit from drinking more coffee.

“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising. Coffee and caffeine are often considered by the general population 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,” said study author David P. Kao, MD, in a press release. “However, there is not yet enough clear evidence to recommend increasing coffee consumption to decrease risk of heart disease with the same strength and certainty as stopping smoking, losing weight or exercising.”

Study limitations include differences in the way coffee drinking was recorded and the type of coffee consumed. Specifics such as drip, percolated, French press, or espresso coffee types, origin of coffee beans, and filtered or unfiltered coffee were details not specified. Further, there may have been variability regarding the unit measurement for 1 cup of coffee.

The researchers noted that the original studies 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.

REFERENCE
Coffee lovers, rejoice! Drinking more coffee associated with decreased heart failure risk. American Heart Association. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/coffee-lovers-rejoice-drinking-more-coffee-associated-with-decreased-heart-failure-risk. Published February 9, 2021. Accessed February 11, 2021.