Study: Moderate to Heavy Coffee Consumption Doesn’t Increase Arterial Stiffness

Arteries carry blood containing oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. If they become stiff, it can increase the workload on the heart and increase a person’s chance of having a heart attack or stroke. New research from Queen Mary University of London and the University of Oxford debunks previous studies that claimed drinking coffee increases arterial stiffness.

Moderate to heavy coffee consumption is not associated with having stiffer arteries. Image credit: Katie175.

Moderate to heavy coffee consumption is not associated with having stiffer arteries. Image credit: Katie175.

“Coffee is widely reported to be the world’s most popular drink and previous studies revealed acute increases in arterial stiffness with its consumption,” said lead author Dr. Kenneth Fung from Queen Mary University of London and colleagues.

“But, the reported chronic effects of coffee on arterial stiffness are inconsistent and limited by modest number of studied subjects.”

“We aimed to evaluate the association of coffee consumption on arterial stiffness using two forms of stiffness measures in a large population cohort.”

The study involved 17,932 participants from the UK Biobank Imaging Study who underwent MRI heart scans and infrared pulse wave tests.

Coffee consumption was categorized into three groups for the study: those who drink less than one cup a day, those who drink between one and three cups a day and those who drink more than three.

People who consumed more than 25 cups of coffee a day were excluded, but no increased stiffening of arteries was associated with those who drank up to this high limit when compared with those who drank less than one cup a day.

Of the 8,412 participants included in the final analysis, the research showed that moderate and heavy coffee drinkers were most likely to be male, smoke, and consume alcohol regularly.

“Despite the huge popularity of coffee worldwide, different reports could put people off from enjoying it,” Dr. Fung said.

“Whilst we can’t prove a causal link, our research indicates coffee isn’t as bad for the arteries as previous studies would suggest.”

“Although our study included individuals who drink up to 25 cups a day, the average intake amongst the highest coffee consumption group was 5 cups a day.”

“We would like to study these people more closely in our future work so that we can help to advise safe limits.”

The study was published in the journal Heart.

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K. Fung et al. 2019. 9 Effect of coffee consumption on arterial stiffness from UK biobank imaging study. Heart 105: A8-A10; doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2019-BCS.9

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