coffee prevents death from heart disease in people who have had a heart attack

Coffee drinking has traditionally suffered a bad reputation. But a large body of recent research is changing the image of coffee. Now, it turns out, it may even help you if you’ve had a heart attack.

There is a down side to coffee for many people: it can contribute to depression, anxiety and panic attacks. But, it can also help you live longer if you have suffered a heart attack before.

Previous research has hinted that drinking coffee could reduce your risk of dying from circulatory disease: at least if you are a woman. But it seems that no one has really asked what the effect of coffee is on you if you have already suffered a heart attack.

That’s what this new study asked. The study followed 4,365 people who had suffered a myocardial infarction, or heart attack. They found that drinking coffee protects you. Compared to people who drank 250mL of coffee (1 cup) a day or less, people who drank about 2-4 cups a day had a 31% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. People who drank more than four cups a day had a 28% lower risk. Drinking 2-4 cups a day resulted in 23% reduced risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, while drinking more than four cups a day increased the benefit to 32%. The risk of dying from any cause during the study went down by 16% in the 2-4 cup a day group and 18% in the four cups or more group. There was no advantage to drinking coffee for preventing death from a stroke.

All together, drinking coffee lowers your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or ischemic heart disease by 20-30% if you have suffered a previous heart attack. Drinking more than four cups a day offered no additional benefit for all cause mortality or death from cardiovascular disease, but it did bring more help for ischemic heart disease. This is consistent with previous research showing a benefit to drinking two to four cups of coffee a day but not more.

One catch, though. You have to drink it black. When people added sugar, milk or coffee creamer, the coffee advantage was no longer statistically significant.

Am J Clin Nutr 2017;106(4):1113-1120

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