Coffee linked to heart disease death risk in those with hypertension

What is cardiovascular disease?

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Cardiovascular disease refers to a range of conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. It is often caused by a build-up of fat in the vessels as well as blood clots. Having high blood pressure – or hypertension – also increases your risk due to the extra strain it puts on your organs.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the UK and includes coronary heart disease, strokes and peripheral arterial disease.

Known triggers of cardiovascular disease are mainly lifestyle factors such as being overweight, not exercising enough, having high cholesterol and smoking.

Now research has found that how much coffee you consume could also be to blame.

The new study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, showed that drinking two or more cups of coffee a day may double the risk of death from cardiovascular disease among people with severe high blood pressure.

Within this study, severe blood pressure was considered to be 160/100 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) or higher.

Healthy ideal blood pressure is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.

However, the study found that one cup of coffee and daily green tea consumption did not increase the risk of death related to cardiovascular disease at any blood pressure measurement, though both drinks contain caffeine.

A standard eight-ounce cup of green or black tea has 30-50 milligrams of caffeine, while the same size cup of coffee has closer to 80 to 100 milligrams.

The study’s senior author, Hiroyasu Iso, said: ”These findings may support the assertion that people with severe high blood pressure should avoid drinking excessive coffee.

“Because people with severe hypertension are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine, caffeine’s harmful effects may outweigh its protective effects and may increase the risk of death.”

As part of the study, more than 6,570 men and 12,000 women – aged 40 to 79 years – took part.

Participants provided data through health examinations and self-administered questionnaires assessing lifestyle, diet and medical history.

During nearly 19 years of follow-up (ending in 2009), 842 cardiovascular-related deaths were documented.

Researchers concluded that:

  • Drinking two or more cups of coffee a day was associated with twice the risk of cardiovascular disease death in people whose blood pressure was 160/100 mm/Hg or higher compared to those who did not drink any coffee
  • Drinking one cup of coffee a day was not associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease across any blood pressure categories
  • Green tea consumption was not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality across any blood pressure categories.

It comes as previous research found that drinking one cup of coffee a day may help heart attack survivors by lowering their risk of death after a heart attack and may prevent heart attacks or strokes in healthy individuals.

And separate studies have suggested drinking coffee regularly may reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and some cancers; may help to control appetite; may help to lower the risk of depression or boost alertness, though it is not clear if this effect is from the caffeine or something else in coffee.

Iso added: “Our study aimed to determine whether the known protective effect of coffee also applies to individuals with different degrees of hypertension; and also examined the effects of green tea in the same population.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to find an association between drinking two or more cups of coffee daily and cardiovascular disease mortality among people with severe hypertension.”

The study also found that people with more frequent coffee consumption were more likely to be younger, current smokers, current drinkers, eat fewer vegetables, and have higher total cholesterol levels and lower systolic blood pressure regardless of the blood pressure category.

Factors that can increase your blood pressure include:

  • Are overweight
  • Eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
  • Do not do enough exercise
  • Drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • Smoke
  • Do not get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
  • Are over 65
  • Have a relative with high blood pressure
  • Are of black African or black Caribbean descent
  • Live in a deprived area.

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