Caffeine for Cupid: Black coffee may help reduce risk of heart failure, new research finds

Written on 02/12/2021
Ciarán Mather

In a well-timed development just ahead of Valentine's Day, scientists have found that drinking one or more cups of black coffee can reduce the risk of heart failure.

The study was conducted by the American Heart Association, who conducted a review of diet data from three major studies.

The study, which began in 1948, analysed self-reported dietary information from the original Framingham Heart Study. 

It involved over 5,000 people with no diagnosed heart disease who lived in Framingham, Massachusetts, and followed those people and their offspring for 72 years over three generations.

After comparing data with non-coffee drinkers, one study found that the risk of heart failure over time decreased between 5 per cent and 12 per cent for each cup of coffee consumed daily.

In fact, across all three studies it found that drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day was associated with decreased long-term risk of heart failure.

Speaking on the findings, dietitian Penny Kris-Etherton, immediate past chairperson of the American Heart Association's Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Council Leadership Committee, explained: 'While [the study is] unable to prove causality, it is intriguing that these three studies suggest that drinking coffee is associated with a decreased risk of heart failure and that coffee can be part of a healthy dietary pattern if consumed plain, without added sugar and high fat dairy products such as cream.'

However, lead author of the study, Dr. David Kao, was quick to stress that 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.

The study also found that decaffeinated coffee doesn't appear to provide the same protection as caffeine-rich blends.

Dr. Guy Mintz, who directs cardiovascular health at Northwell Health's Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, New York, told WebMD that while the new findings do indeed show 'an interesting association', but do not show any recommendation to support increasing one's coffee intake.

He said: "what type of heart failure does caffeine affect? Caffeinated coffee in moderation can be part of a heart healthy diet without deleterious effects.'

He further claims that beyond that, the new study is merely 'a starting point' for further investigation, adding: 'Patients who do not drink coffee should not start, and patients should certainly not start consuming supplements with caffeine such as 5-Hour Energy or Red Bull, etc., to reduce their risk of heart failure.'

The results of the study were recently published in the AHA journal Circulation: Heart Failure.