Feel like you can’t live without your morning cup of coffee? Love to have a nice, hot cup of java in the afternoon? Well, then this news should put a big smile on your face! Researchers have found that daily consumption of caffeine could cut your risk of dying from heart disease by up to 53%!
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), in 2004, 79,400,000 Americans had some type of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Out of those, 7,900,000 had an acute heart attack. Getting to the most depressing statistics, heart disease accounted for 36.3% of all deaths in 2004, claiming a total of 871,500 lives, making it the number one most dangerous disease in the country. I’m not trying to scare you with these stats; but I am trying to underline the importance of any new finding that could help reduce your risk for this disease, especially the possibility of dying from it.
CVD is an umbrella term for several diseases affecting the cardiovascular system, including the heart, arteries, and veins. A major example of CVD is “atherosclerosis,” which is a disease involving the hardening of the arteries due to accumulation of plaque that can eventually lead to a stroke, heart attack, or congestive heart failure.
Although the prevention of heart disease should start in childhood, when the cardiovascular system is healthy, most of us ignore the possibility of problems occurring until our later years, when we’re faced with the realities of CVD. That’s where this latest research comes in!
The Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn collaborated on a study that aimed to see if caffeinated drinks could help reduce the risk of death due to CVD in the elderly.
The researchers analyzed data taken in the “National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow- up Study,” which followed participants for almost nine years. This recent analysis looked at data on 6,594 people, between the ages of 32 and 86, who did not have a history of CVD at the outset of the nine-year study. Out of the participants, 426 died of some form of heart disease during the study period.
The New York researchers found that seniors (people over 65) who drank more coffee had a lower risk of dying from CVD than did study participants who consumed less caffeinated beverages — in fact, the more they drank, the lower their risk went! Specifically, drinking four or more servings of a caffeinated drink a day brought a person’s chance of succumbing to heart disease down by an astonishing 53%, compared to drinking half a serving or less every day. Downing two to four servings of coffee a day meant a 32% decrease in risk of mortality due to CVD.
However, it should be noted that these beneficial effects were only seen in people not suffering from severe high blood pressure. When it came to people who were under the age of 65, they did not experience any significant protection from the consumption of caffeinated drinks. Moreover, the vulnerability of coffee drinkers to mortality from stroke and other diseases affecting the blood vessels in the brain remained the same.
The caffeinated beverages specifically linked to lower risk of death due to CVD were ground coffee and instant coffee, so it’s not known if other coffee products, tea, or caffeinated soda could have the same effect. Obviously decaf coffee is not on the list.
Exactly how does coffee provide protection from deadly CVD? The researchers believe that it could bring up your blood pressure in a beneficial way. Bet you thought high blood pressure was the only thing that could lead to heart disease! Not so — when blood pressure is too low, this means that the organs, including the heart, are not getting enough of the vital oxygen, thus leading to major problems.
Coffee with caffeine as a healthy beverage is still a controversial subject. Many studies have been done on different health conditions and their links with caffeine, with mixed results. It’s not even known whether it’s actually the caffeine that is under debate or some other accompanying substance.
It’s best to check with your doctor or nutritionist on the risks/benefits that coffee with caffeine could have for your particular case, especially when accompanying other lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, exercising, and eating heart-healthy foods. However, it seems that people over the age of 65 with relatively normal blood pressure could ward off severe heart disease just by drinking a few cups of brew a day — without the cream and sugar of course!