Blog | Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Coffee, tea and heart disease

Patients often wonder if it is safe to drink coffee. Since coffee and tea are two of the most common drinks in the world, it's valid to question their safety. A new analysis of many studies (called a meta-analysis) answers this important question. It was published in The American Journal of Medicine (Am J of Medicine, Vol. 130, No. 2, February 2017).

The researchers looked 6,508 participants in various studies and analyzed their coffee and tea usage over time. They measured coronary artery calcium progression and coronary events. The study found that drinking coffee had no negative effects on heart disease or heart attacks compared with non-coffee drinkers. And even better news; tea drinkers had less progression of coronary disease and fewer coronary events than non-tea drinkers.

My first thought was “How much coffee or tea”? We all know too much of anything can be bad. They didn't differentiate between black or green tea or decaf or caffeinated black coffee. They found that caffeine itself did not lead to greater coronary artery calcium progression. They found that being a regular tea drinker (over one cup every day) was associated with less coronary disease and heart attacks. Being an occasional coffee drinker, compared with never drinkers, increased the incidence of cardiac events but regular (daily) coffee drinkers did not have more events or coronary artery blockage. It was neutral.

So what can you make of this? Regular tea drinking can be part of a heart healthy diet. Regular coffee drinking is probably safe and past studies have certainly shown this.

Keep in mind that good heart health is never just one thing and it is a combination of many choices like not smoking, eating a heart healthy diet and regular activity. But it's good to know we can have our morning Cup o’ Joe and sip on tea all day long.

This post originally appeared at Everything Health. Toni Brayer, MD, FACP, is an ACP Internist editorial board member who blogs at EverythingHealth, designed to address the rapid changes in science, medicine, health and healing in the 21st Century.