If you love having a cup of coffee (or three) each morning, it may be good news for your heart. Men who participated in the Physician’s Health Study, and consumed one to three cups of coffee daily, were found to have lower risk of atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation, commonly known as “AFib”, is an irregular heartbeat that is implicated in strokes, heart failure, and blood clots. Almost three million Americans are affected by AFib, and it can make people feel like they are struggling to get their breath or that their heart is pounding incredibly fast.
It may seem counterintuitive that coffee could lessen that risk: after all, caffeine can raise blood pressure and make people feel “revved up.” However, coffee – especially if not overloaded with sweeteners or extra calories – is also an excellent source of natural antioxidants and protects cognitive health. In this case, it seems that the moderate levels of caffeine in a couple of cups of coffee is just the thing to help keep heart rhythms regular and strong.
Bodar V, Chen J, Gaziano JM, Albert C, Djoussé L. Coffee Consumption and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation in the Physicians' Health Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Aug 6;8(15):e011346.
Background: Although coffee consumption is often reported as a trigger for atrial fibrillation (AF) among patients with paroxysmal AF, prospective studies on the relation of coffee consumption with AF risk have been inconsistent. Hence, we sought to assess the association between coffee consumption and risk of AF in men. Methods and Results: We prospectively studied men who participated in the Physicians' Health Study (N=18 960). Coffee consumption was assessed through self-reported food frequency questionnaires. The incidence of AF was assessed through annual questionnaires and validated through review of medical records in a subsample. Cox proportional hazard models were used to calculate hazard ratios and 95% CIs of AF. The average age was 66.1 years. A total of 2098 new cases of AF occurred during a mean follow-up of 9 years. Hazard ratios (95% CI) of AF were 1.0 (reference), 0.85 (0.71-1.02), 1.07 (0.88-1.30), 0.93 (0.74-1.17), 0.85 (0.74-0.98), 0.86 (0.76-0.97), and 0.96 (0.80-1.14) for coffee consumption of rarely/never, ≤1 cup/week, 2 to 4 cups/week, 5 to 6 cups/week, 1 cup/day, 2 to 3 cups/day, and 4+ cups/day, respectively; adjusting for age, smoking, alcohol intake, and exercise (P for nonlinear trend=0.01). In a secondary analysis the multivariable adjusted hazard ratio (95% CI) of AF per standard deviation (149-mg) change in caffeine intake was 0.97 (0.92-1.02). Conclusions: Our data suggest a lower risk of AF among men who reported coffee consumption of 1 to 3 cups/day.
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