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

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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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