Coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease risk

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A number of meta-analyses have reviewed the associations between coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) overall, with many concluding that there is no association between coffee drinking and an increased risk of CVD. In fact, many have suggested that the association can be illustrated with a ‘U shaped curve’ with the greatest protection seen at a moderate intake of coffee (3-5 cups per day). The lowest CVD mortality risk is seen at an intake of approximately 3 cups of coffee per day, with a percentage risk reduction of up to 21%.

  • A 2012 systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies observed a statistically significant J-shaped relationship between coffee and heart failure. Compared to those who did not drink coffee, the strongest inverse association was seen at 4 cups per day, with a potentially higher risk reported at higher levels of consumption. There was no evidence that the relationship between coffee and heart failure risk varied by sex or by baseline history of myocardial infarction or diabetes6.
  • A 2013 review on coffee consumption and mortality, totaling 1,054,571 participants, suggested a significant inverse, i.e. favourable association between coffee consumption and CVD mortality risk, especially in women. Intakes of coffee at 3-5 cups per day showed the most significant protective effect, whilst quantities over 5 cups per day were associated with a smaller reduction in total mortality7.
  • However, a 2013 large American cohort study of over 2,500 CVD deaths suggested a positive association between coffee consumption and all-cause mortality in men, and also in men and women below 55 years of age. The authors advised that younger people should avoid heavy coffee consumption cautioning that the finding should be assessed in other populations8.
  • A 2013 meta-analysis of well-controlled prospective studies suggested that coffee consumption was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease, weakly associated with a lower risk of stroke and heart failure, and not associated with a higher risk of fatal cardiovascular events. Overall, the authors concluded that for most healthy people, moderate coffee consumption is unlikely to adversely affect cardiovascular health9.
  • Two 2014 meta-analyses suggest an association between coffee consumption and CVD risk, proposing a ‘U-shaped’ pattern whereby optimal protective effects were achieved with 3-5 cups of coffee per day. The greatest risk reduction may be seen at 3 cups of coffee per day, with a reduced CVD mortality risk at 21%10,11.

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