Overview

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Cardiovascular disease

  • Many prospective cohort studies looking at coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) suggest that a moderate intake of coffee – 3-5 cups per day – may provide protection against CVD mortality risk.
  • Most of the studies reviewing the association between coffee consumption and stroke have suggested that drinking coffee is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, particularly in women.
  • No statistically significant association is seen for atrial fibrillation and caffeine consumption from coffee.

Blood pressure

  • The effect of coffee consumption on blood pressure is relatively small and not exclusively dependent on caffeine. More factors appear to be involved, some having opposite effects on blood pressure.

Cholesterol

  • The method of preparation is the main factor determining what role coffee beverages may have on cholesterol levels. Trials using filtered coffee demonstrate virtually no effect on serum cholesterol whilst consumption of unfiltered coffee can increase serum cholesterol levels. The effects on cholesterol levels are transient and are reduced after the cessation of consumption.

Blood vessel dilation

  • A small number of preliminary tests on flow-mediated dilation measured in the brachial artery have shown a short-term effect of coffee consumption. Further studies are needed before conclusions about the meaning of this effect can be drawn.

Homocysteine

  • There is some evidence that high intakes of coffee may increase blood homocysteine levels. However, it is still unclear whether reducing homocysteine levels leads to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease; no causal relationship between high homocysteine levels and cardiovascular disease has been established.

Patient studies

  • The number of reported studies on patients appears to be increasing. The results of these studies should be interpreted with caution. Extrapolation of these results to healthy people is questionable. The primary value of such patient studies will be in therapy development.

Mechanisms

  • The mechanisms underlying the associations between coffee consumption and reduced risk of stroke, and potential associations with risk factors for coronary heart disease, need further investigation. Caffeine is unlikely to be solely responsible for the observed effects.

The content in this Topic Overview was last edited in September 2016. Papers in the Latest Research section and further resources are added regularly.

This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
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