Drinking coffee reduces the risk of heart failure—but not if it’s decaf

Drinking coffee is associated with a reduced risk of heart failure, according to a new AI-based analysis published in Circulation Heart Failure.

The study’s authors used machine learning to explore the original data from three well-known heart disease studies: the Framingham Heart Study, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and the Cardiovascular Health Study. At least 10 years of follow-up information were available for each of the more than 21,000 study participants.

Participants were categorized based on the number of cups of coffee they reported drinking on a daily basis. Overall, the team found that drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee was associated with a significant reduction in a person’s long-term risk of heart failure.

Drinking decaffeinated coffee, on the other hand, was associated with a significant increase in heart failure risk in the Framingham Heart Study.

“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising,” senior author David P. Kao, MD, a cardiologist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, said in a prepared statement from the American Heart Association (AHA). “Coffee and caffeine are often considered by the general population to be ‘bad’ for the heart because people associate them with palpitations, high blood pressure, etc. The consistent relationship between increasing caffeine consumption and decreasing heart failure risk turns that assumption on its head. However, there is not yet enough clear evidence to recommend increasing coffee consumption to decrease risk of heart disease with the same strength and certainty as stopping smoking, losing weight or exercising.”

“The risks and benefits of drinking coffee have been topics of ongoing scientific interest due to the popularity and frequency of consumption worldwide,” added Linda Van Horn, PhD, professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and a member of the AHA’s Nutrition Committee. “Studies reporting associations with outcomes remain relatively limited due to inconsistencies in diet assessment and analytical methodologies, as well as inherent problems with self-reported dietary intake.”

The full AI-based analysis can be read here.

Click here to read about another recent study looking at coffee consumption and patient outcomes.