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Cardiovascular health

Coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease

Regular coffee consumption does not increase cardiovascular disease risk

Research highlights

  • The largest and most recent analysis of studies looking at coffee consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) does not support the hypothesis that coffee consumption increases the long-term risk of heart disease.  Habitual moderate coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of CHD in women1.
  • Recent studies in the Netherlands2, Japan3 and Swedenall find no association between coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease.  In fact, one study3 finds that higher coffee consumption is associated with lower mortality from all causes, including cardiovascular disease, in women.
  • Four recent studies looking at coffee consumption and stroke2,3,5,6 all conclude that the long-term consumption of coffee is not associated with an increased risk of stroke in women.  In contrast, they suggest it may moderately reduce stroke risk.

Regular coffee consumption has little effect on cardiovascular risk factors

Research highlights

  • Blood PressureThe precise nature of the relationship between coffee and blood pressure is still unclear but most evidence indicates that regular intake of caffeinated coffee does not increase the risk of hypertension.
    • A large 2008 review7 of the effect of habitual coffee consumption on blood pressure cites that some studies find a protective effect of coffee, whereas others find a small short-term elevation in blood pressure (1-2 mmHg) with a coffee intake of about 5 cups a day.
  • Cholesterol LevelsThe diterpenes cafestol, and, to a lesser extent kahweol, found in coffee oil, raise the serum levels of both total and LDL-cholesterol8. They are found in unfiltered coffees, such as Scandinavian boiled coffee, Cafetière (plunger pot), Greek and Turkish coffee but are not present in filtered coffee as they are retained in the paper filter. Soluble coffee contains hardly any diterpenes and has virtually no effect on serum cholesterol levels. Espresso contains approximately half the amount found in unfiltered coffee and moderate consumption has negligible effect on serum cholesterol. The effects on cholesterol levels are transient and are reduced after the cessation of consumption.
    • A 2001 meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials concludes that trials using filtered coffee demonstrate very little increase in serum cholesterol levels9.
  • Atrial Fibrillation (most common type of cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heart beat)Individuals with atrial fibrillation usually have a significantly increased risk of stroke.
    • The Women’s Health Study finds no effect of elevated caffeine consumption on atrial fibrillation in the 33,638 women who took part and were followed-up for over 14 years10.
    • A 2005 Danish study of 47,949 participants also finds no effect of caffeine consumption on risk of atrial fibrillation in either men or women11.
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