How Coffee Subtypes Affect Heart Disease & Arrhythmias
It’s almost impossible to think of a world without coffee. It seems like there’s a coffee shop on every corner. That said, coffee has, in the past, been implicated in health issues ranging from heart disease to cancer. However, while some cardiovascular specialists have warned their patients about coffee and caffeine, new studies have shown that this may not be the end of the story. Studies before the one we are discussing today have shown that caffeine does not seem to have an appreciable effect on cardiovascular disease or arrhythmias, including Afib. There have been studies that show the protective benefits of coffee to the heart. Of course, how do we know if these benefits are produced by the caffeine or the dozens of other compounds that make up coffee?
A recent study¹ conducted in the United Kingdom and published on the 27th of September 2022 sought to get a better idea of how caffeine affects the heart by using decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee as part of research that included over 400,000 participants. The time frame of this study was over 12 years, and the study measured decaffeinated, ground, and instant coffee at various consumption levels up to and exceeding 5 cups per day. The results were interesting:
- When consuming one to five cups per day, there was a significant reduction in cardiac arrhythmias for patients in the caffeinated cohort but not in the decaffeinated group. The highest benefit was seen in those drinking ground coffee four to five times a day or two to three cups a day of instant coffee.
- Non-coffee drinkers were at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease versus all coffee drinkers. Still, the lowest risk included those who drank two to three cups of decaffeinated, instant, or ground coffee daily.
- Mortality from any cause was reduced significantly in all coffee subtypes. However, decaffeinated, ground, and instant coffee showed the lowest risk.
Ultimately, this study showed that all coffee subtypes reduced cardiovascular disease and overall mortality, while caffeinated coffee significantly reduced the incidence of arrhythmia.
Dr. Moretta’s Take
The role that coffee might have played in the incidence or worsening of heart disease and overall mortality was a misconception that even the medical community had until just a few decades ago. We’ve seen lots of research to show otherwise, and this study is significant in demonstrating the benefits of coffee versus all forms of mortality and that arrhythmias may be reduced by caffeine consumption.
Should patients run out and get the most caffeinated coffee they can find? No, let’s keep this in perspective. Ultimately if you enjoy your coffee in the morning, continue having it. However, be mindful of how much cream and sugar you add. If you don’t like coffee, there is reason to believe that other caffeinated beverages, particularly tea, could have a similar protective effect.
Another takeaway from this study is that it confirms what most doctors will tell you: moderation is good. None of the patients drinking more than five cups of coffee daily enjoyed optimal health benefits. This shows that while caffeine and coffee seem just fine for the heart, drinking more is not necessarily better. Of course, there are circumstances in which coffee and caffeine should not be consumed, so if you have medical conditions, it is prudent to speak to your doctors about whether caffeine intake suits your circumstance.
In the meantime, we look forward to bringing you more exciting research, such as what you read above. The world of electrophysiology and cardiology changes rapidly, and these comprehensive studies help us understand more about the heart and how it reacts to our lifestyle choices.
- David Chieng, Rodrigo Canovas, Louise Segan, Hariharan Sugumar, Aleksandr Voskoboinik, Sandeep Prabhu, Liang Han Ling, Geoffrey Lee, Joseph B Morton, David M Kaye, Jonathan M Kalman, Peter M Kistler, The impact of coffee subtypes on incident cardiovascular disease, arrhythmias, and mortality: long-term outcomes from the UK Biobank, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 2022;, zwac189, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurjpc/zwac189