On Coffee and Heart Disease

Written by on June 26, 2012 in Health - No comments | Print this page


On Coffee and Heart Disease

In a recent post, I mentioned that caffeine can trigger heart problems. I thought it might be beneficial to expound upon this statement as there has been much concern as to how coffee can affect the heart and how caffeine relates to heart disease.

Coffee Drinking and Lifestyle

There have been many studies over the years concerning coffee and heart disease. For a good length of time, it was reported that caffeine was bad for the heart. Lately, it has been relayed that this conclusion did not account for the fact that heavy coffee drinkers tend to be inactive individuals who may also smoke and drink. Some researchers have concluded that the lifestyle of coffee drinkers can be a big part of the heart disease problem.

Negative Findings on Coffee and Heart Disease

The study of coffee and heart disease continues today and the results are, indeed, interesting. Following are just some of the negative findings concerning coffee and heart disease over the years.

  • According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore, drinking more than 5 cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart problems.
  • In a 2007 pharmaceutical research paper by Elsevier, LTD, it was stated, “At present there is no evidence that caffeine can have any benefit for the heart; on the contrary, some results indicate that it is detrimental in certain conditions.”
  • According to the Texas Heart Institute, caffeine can cause arrhythmias, which are irregular heartbeats.
  • According to Mark Urman, a cardiologist at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, coffee can cause heart palpitations in some people, and withdrawal symptoms in those who try to skip their daily dosage for a day or two.
  • A study by H. Robert Superko of the University of California’s Center for Progressive Atherosclerosis Management reported that decaffeinated coffee may increase cholesterol levels, thus increasing the risk of heart attack.
  • A study published in the 2006 Journal of the American College of Cardiology, suggests that the caffeine from two cups of coffee can significantly decrease blood flow to the heart, particularly during exercise at high altitude.
  • Author and Harvard scientist Rob van Dam, acknowledges that caffeine could possibly elevate blood pressure and slightly raise levels of the amino acid homocysteine which can increase the risk for heart disease.

Positive Findings on Coffee and Heart Disease

Several recent studies have revealed there may be some cardiovascular benefits to drinking coffee. Some are listed below:

  • An Iowa Women’s Health Study discovered women who drank one to three cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 24 percent compared with those who drank no coffee at all.
  • According to the 1990 New England Journal of Medicine published by the Harvard School of Public Health, coffee drinking had no effect on the 45,000+ men studied for coffee consumption and heart diseases and stroke.
  • Studies have found that coffee contains a high value of anti-oxidants as well as such minerals as magnesium and chromium, which may be helpful in controlling blood sugar. Controlled blood sugar helps lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • According to a study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association, moderate coffee consumption (2 to 4 cups daily) slightly reduced the risk of death from heart disease.

The Conclusion of the Coffee and Heart Disease Controversy

Based on the preceding studies (and, believe me, there are many more), it would seem that findings on coffee and heart disease are conflicting. Perhaps more research is necessary before settling on any defining conclusions. Following are some of the factors that should be taken into consideration:

  • Type of coffee (regular or decaf)
  • Preparation of coffee (roasted or not roasted)
  • Quality of and origin of coffee bean
  • Time of consumption (freshly brewed or day-old)
  • Age of consumer
  • Lifestyle of consumer (Diet, exercise, smoker, consumer of alcohol)
  • Type of study (Self-reported or controlled group study)

I think it would be wise to consider the expression of James D. Lane, PhD, professor of medical psychology and behavioral medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Dr. Lane says that coffee may contain some good properties, but this does not prove that it is good for us to consume.  Those with health issues, especially, should be aware that the good properties may have nothing to do with the effects of the caffeine content.

According to Mark Urman, you shouldn’t rush to take up the coffee-drinking habit even if it is considered safe. “If you’re not a coffee drinker, don’t start drinking to prevent a stroke or otherwise,” he says. Also, coffee loaded with cream and sugar most likely counteracts any advantage coffee has for the blood vessels and heart.

Any thoughts on the coffee and heart disease controversy? Feel free to share below.


Journal of the American College of Cardiology
Mayo Clinic
Science Daily             




About the Author

Loraine R. Dégraff

Loraine is a passionate health and wellness writer and is particularly interested in working with the body through diet and nutrition. She currently lives in Queens, NY with her husband and 5 children and would love to talk "health" with you. View all posts with Health Tips.