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.

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

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