Fill up that mug: Having one or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day may reduce your risk of heart failure, new research suggests.
There was one caveat, however: Decaffeinated coffee doesn’t appear to provide the same protection as caffeine-rich blends.
“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising,” admitted study senior author Dr. David Kao. “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.”
However, “the consistent relationship between increasing caffeine consumption and decreasing heart failure risk turns that assumption on its head,” said Kao, who is assistant professor of cardiology and medical director at the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. His team published their findings Feb. 9 in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.
Still, the findings can’t prove cause and effect, and they also don’t mean that coffee is any substitute for healthy living when it comes to your heart, Kao said.
“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,” he said in a journal news release.
In their study, Kao and his colleagues analyzed data from more than 21,000 U.S. adults who took part in three major studies: the Framingham Heart Study, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and the Cardiovascular Health Study. Participants were followed for at least 10 years.
In all three studies, drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day was associated with decreased long-term risk of heart failure.
In the Framingham Heart and the Cardiovascular Health studies, the risk of heart failure fell by 5%-12% per cup of coffee each day, compared with having no coffee.
The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study found that the risk of heart failure didn’t change with 0 to 1 cup of coffee per day, but was about 30% lower in people who had at least 2 cups a day.
The findings for decaffeinated coffee were different. The Cardiovascular Health Study found no link between decaf and heart failure risk, while the Framingham Heart Study found that decaf was associated with a significantly higher risk of heart failure.