Study of the Day: Your Beloved Coffee Habit May Be Protecting Your Heart

Regular, moderate coffee consumption may reduce the risk of heart failure, according to new research from the American Heart Association.

Study of the DayYuri Arcurs/Shutterstock

PROBLEM: Though many studies have explored the relationship between drinking coffee and the risk of heart failure, their findings and conclusions have been inconsistent.

METHODOLOGY: Scientists led by Harvard School of Public Health's Elizabeth Mostofsky reviewed research from 2001 to 2011 that assessed the connection between habitual coffee consumption and the incidence of heart failure. A total of 6,522 heart failure events and 140,220 participants were included in the meta-analysis.

RESULTS: Habitual, moderate coffee consumption, or drinking about two typical eight-ounce American servings a day, was inversely associated with risk of heart failure. Excessive intake, or drinking five to six commercial servings, appears to have no heart-related benefit and may even be dangerous. There was also no evidence that the link between caffeine and cardiovascular health varied by gender, heart-attack history or diabetes status.

CONCLUSION: One or two cups of coffee a day may help protect against heart failure, but over-indulging may lead to serious heart problems. Co-author and epidemiologist Murray Mittleman says in a statement: "As with so many things, moderation appears to be the key here, too."

IMPLICATION: Since a little coffee doesn't appear to harm the heart, current guidelines that warn heart patients against drinking coffee altogether may need to be revised.

SOURCE: The full study, "Habitual Coffee Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis," (PDF) is published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Health

Just In