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Daily Coffee (1-2 cups) Limbers Up the Heart
  MedPage Today
Published: August 25, 2010
STOCKHOLM -- A daily coffee habit may counteract aortic stiffness in older adults with hypertension, researchers reported.
One to two cups a day correlated with greater aortic distensibility compared with rarely consuming coffee (P=0.45) in a cohort of men and women 65 and older on the Greek island of Ikaria.
But a higher dose -- three to five cups a day -- had no effect on flexibility of the aorta, according to Christina Chrysohoou, MD, PhD, of the University of Athens, and colleagues.
These results are slated for presentation here at the European Society of Cardiology meeting next week.
Action Points
* Note that this study was published as an abstract and will be presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
* Explain to interested patients that one to two cups of coffee per day correlated with greater aortic distensibility compared with rarely consuming coffee (P=0.45) in a cohort of men and women 65 and older.
* Note that this study used a surrogate marker, aortic distensibility measured by echocardiography, rather than a clinical endpoint.
"We cannot give the recommendation for every hypertensive to start drinking coffee, but we can strongly recommend if they do drink coffee to continue in moderation in order to improve their vascular age even if they are elderly," Chrysohoou told MedPage Today in an e-mail.
At higher intake levels, she explained, caffeine's effects may overpower the benefits for vessel distensibility that the researchers attributed to polyphenol compounds in coffee.
Hypertension makes vessels less responsive to signals to expand. But even in those in whom hypertension disrupts this function, lower elasticity of the aorta remains a significant predictor of cardiovascular events, the investigators noted.
Some prior studies have suggested that coffee intake doesn't increase risk of developing hypertension, but evidence on cardiovascular effects has been conflicting overall.
So the researchers analyzed coffee consumption results for the 435 hypertensive individuals among those ages 65 to 100 in a larger study of permanent inhabitants of Ikaria Island. Inhabitants of the island have a long life expectancy and unusually high proportion of residents who reach 90.
Chrysohoou and colleagues found that, compared with rarely drinking coffee, moderate consumption of one or two cups a day was associated with:
* Lower prevalence of diabetes (22% versus 34%, P=0.02)
* Lower prevalence of high cholesterol (41% versus 55%, P=0.001)
* Lower body mass index (28 versus 29 kg/m2, P=0.04)
* Higher creatinine clearance levels (70.2 versus 65 mL/min, P=0.01)
* Lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease (19% versus 26%, P=0.04)
* Higher values of aortic distensibility (P<0.05)
Moderate coffee drinkers didn't differ in other dietary habits or in systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels compared with nondrinkers, though.
Multivariate analysis with regard to echocardiographically-measured aortic distensibility accounted for potential confounders including age, sex, physical activity status, creatinine levels, BMI, and diabetes status.
Most of the coffee drinkers in the study consumed traditional Greek blends, which Chrysohoou explained, have higher levels of phenol compounds thought to be protective for the heart than coffee typically consumed in the U.S.
The study was funded by the First Cardiology Clinic at the University of Athens.
Chrysohoou reported having no conflicts of interest to declare.
Primary source: European Society of Cardiology
Source reference:
Chrysohoou C, et al "Moderate coffee consumption improves aortic distensibility in hypertensive elderly individuals: Ikaria study" ESC 2010; Abstract 5233.
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