Moderate coffee consumption may stave off atherosclerosis

A coffee habit may improve a patient’s cardiovascular profile. A study looking at coronary artery calcium (CAC) and coffee consumption found that those who drank three or four cups of coffee a day had lower CAC score ratios than those who consumed more or less.

Yuni Choi, MD, of Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues used the Kangbuk Samsung Health Study to assess 25,138 patients without cardiovascular disease symptoms. Patients answered a questionnaire about food consumption and frequency and underwent CT to determine the extent of CAC.

CT detected CAC in 13.4 percent of patients. Of these patients, 11.3 percent had scores ranging from one through 100; 2.1 percent had scores greater than 100. Mean coffee consumption was around 1.8 cups per day.

Compared with nondrinkers, individuals who drank less than one cup, between one and two cups, between three and four cups, or five or more cups had CAC score ratios of 0.77, 0.66, 0.59 and 0.81, respectively. Trends persisted regardless of other factors such as smoking habit, age, sex, alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia or hypertension.

Some questions still persist about the significance of coffee on subclinical coronary atherosclerosis. Two other studies in the field have conflicting findings: one suggested moderate-to-high consumption improved CAC scores and the other was unable to find any association.

“Further research is needed to understand the potential effects of moderate coffee consumption on CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk, which are likely to be complex and at least partly independent of traditional CVD risk factors,” Choi et al wrote.

The study was published online March 2 in Heart.