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Study: Moderate Coffee Consumption Offers Protection Against Heart Failure

cup of coffee

Some studies on coffee consumption and heart health have shown a heart-protective benefit, while others find no association at all. But the latest research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center attempts to shift the conversation from a definitive "yes" or "no" to a question of "how much?"

"Our results did show a possible benefit, but like with so many other things we consume, it really depends on how much coffee you drink," says lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, MPH, ScD, a post-doctoral fellow in the Cardiovascular Epidemiological Unit at BIDMC. "And compared with no consumption, the strongest protection we observed was at about four European, or two 8-ounce American, servings of coffee per day."

The study, published June 26 online in the Journal Circulation: Heart Failure, found that these moderate coffee drinkers were at 11 percent lower risk of heart failure.

Data was analyzed from five previous studies - four conducted in Sweden, one in Finland - that examined the association between coffee consumption and heart failure. The self-reported data came from 140,220 participants and involved 6,522 heart failure events.

In a summary of the published literature, the authors found a significant relationship between habitual coffee consumption and heart failure, where protective benefits begin to increase with consumption maxing out at two 8-ounce American servings a day. Protection slowly decreases as more coffee is consumed until, at five cups consumed, there is no benefit. The results showed that more than five cups a day may have a potential for harm.

It's unclear why moderate coffee consumption provides protection from heart failure, but the researchers say part of the answer may lie in the intersection between regular coffee drinking and two of the strongest risk factors for heart failure - diabetes and elevated blood pressure.

"There is a good deal of research showing that drinking coffee lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes," says senior author Murray Mittleman, MD, DrPH, a physician in the Cardiovascular Institute at BIDMC and Director of the Cardiovascular Epidemiological Research Program. "It stands to reason that if you lower the risk of diabetes, you also lower the risk of heart failure."

There may also be a blood pressure benefit. Studies have consistently shown that light coffee and caffeine consumption are known to raise blood pressure.

"But at that moderate range of consumption, people tend to develop a tolerance where drinking coffee does not pose a risk and may even be protective against elevated blood pressure," says Mittleman.

This study was not able to assess the strength of the coffee, nor did it look at caffeinated versus non-caffeinated coffee.

"There is clearly more research to be done," says Mostofsky. "But in the short run, this data may warrant a change to the guidelines to reflect that coffee consumption, in moderation, may provide some protection from heart failure."

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

BIDMC Once Again Among U.S. News & World Report "Top Hospitals"

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center West Campus Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has once again been named to U.S. News & World Report's list as a leading hospital in Boston and in the nation, one of just 148 of approximately 5,000 hospitals that performed well enough to rank in even one specialty.

The recognition is the latest in a series of high-visibility honors for BIDMC, which was cited as the top hospital in Massachusetts - and one of only 65 in the nation - by the Leapfrog Group, which focuses on patient safety and quality. That recognition was the fifth in six years.

And for the 10th time - and the sixth in seven years - BIDMC was named one of the Top 100 Hospitals in the United States based in overall organizational performance, the only Boston hospital cited in the annual study released by Thomson Reuters.

In U.S. News & World Report, BIDMC is ranked in the Top 50 in three clinical specialty categories: cancer, gastroenterology, and diabetes and endocrinology - a ranking shared with the Joslin Diabetes Center.

BIDMC was also ranked as "high-performing" in eight additional specialties, including cardiology and heart surgery; ear, nose and throat; geriatrics; gynecology; nephrology; neurology/neurosurgery; pulmonology and urology.

The magazine also ranked BIDMC as the No. 3 hospital in both Boston and Massachusetts.

Red Sox Scholars Inducted at Fenway Park

The 2012 Class of Red Sox Scholars at Fenway Park with BIDMC CEO Kevin Tabb, MD. Click for more photos.

Ten Medical Champions from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and their seventh-grade Red Sox Scholars were each joined by a Red Sox player as they jogged onto the field at Fenway Park on Sunday, June 10, for the pregame ceremony. The students were officially inducted as the 10th class of scholars, celebrating a 10-year partnership between the Sox and BIDMC to help academically talented and financially challenged students aim high for their college education.

"It was both an honor and a privilege to participate in the 2012 Red Sox Scholars Induction Ceremony at Fenway Park," said Medical Champion Catherine Cheney, MD, a gastroenterologist at BIDMC. "I was quite impressed with the 10 new scholars, who all exhibited exceptional poise and maturity well beyond their years. The pleasure of meeting these extraordinary students was definitely the highlight of my day."

The Red Sox Foundation provides up to $10,000 in college scholarships each year, while BIDMC's Medical Champions offer the scholars exposure to the world of science and health care, guidance and friendship.

"This is such a phenomenal event and we're so honored to be part of this program," said Kevin Tabb, MD, President and CEO. "These kids are a real inspiration. They're an inspiration to us and we hope that we can give back and inspire them in return."



Tabb was asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, along with two of the Scholars. At the last minute, he handed the baseball to his 13-year-old son, Noam (sporting a new Dustin Pedroia T-shirt), who threw a strike right down the middle.

Before the ceremony, Lois Gordon, a Class of 2003 Scholar now studying sociology on the pre-law track at Wheaton College, spoke to the incoming Class of 2012.

"Scholars, you should be extremely proud of yourselves right now," said Gordon. "You were each chosen because you are unique. The Red Sox saw something in you that singled you out and made them want to invest in your future. Every scholar in this room has the potential to be amazing at whatever you decide to do. Medical Champions, your commitment to us as students is the beginning of an amazing relationship. You have no idea how much your presence here makes a difference. Volunteering your time and sharing your medical experience makes us even more ahead of the game. We appreciate you and your commitment to be a part of our journey."

There are currently 220 Red Sox Scholars in the Red Sox Foundation, including this year's new class. In addition to the scholarships, the program provides access to mentoring from Red Sox Foundation staff members; tutoring and other after-school and summer enrichment activities; and assistance with the college application process when the students are in their final years of high school. BIDMC will also host the scholars for a special "shadow day" event, which in the past has included hands-on instruction in the Carl J. Shapiro Simulation Skills Center and tours of the NICU.

In addition to BIDMC, the Red Sox Scholars program is generously supported by grants from The Highland Street Foundation, The Sunshine Lady Foundation, Target, the Peter Lynch Foundation and the Klarman Family Foundation as well as fundraising events conducted by the Red Sox Foundation.

Learn more about the Red Sox Scholars and BIDMC »


Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.


Posted July 2012

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