Hypertension: Regular coffee drinking linked to lower blood pressure
- Researchers investigated the effects of coffee consumption on blood pressure.
- Drinking two or more cups of coffee per day was linked to lower blood pressure.
- Further studies are needed to confirm the results.
Coffee is among the most popular beverages around the world. According to the British Coffee Association, people consume an estimated two billion cups of coffee daily.
Research shows that coffee is beneficial for cardiovascular health. One study found that people who drink 3-5 cups of coffee daily have lower cardiovascular risk than those who drink fewer cups daily.
However, some research suggests that coffee may negatively impact cardiovascular measures. One study found a link between heavy coffee consumption and an increased risk of cardiovascular-related mortality among people with severe hypertension.
Further research into the link between coffee consumption and blood pressure could help develop preventive strategies for cardiovascular risk.
Recently, researchers evaluated how coffee-drinking habits affect blood pressure.
They found that regular coffee drinking correlates to multiple measures of lower blood pressure.
The study appears in Nutrients.
Coffee intake and systolic blood pressure
For the study, the researchers evaluated health data from 720 men and 783 women from the Brisighella Heart Study (BHS), a study that began in 1972 and involves the rural population of Brisighella, a small town in Northern Italy.
The study clinically assessed the participants every four years. In their analyses, the researchers compared various measures of blood pressure with self-reported coffee consumption. Among the cohort:
- 14.6% did not drink coffee regularly
- 27% drank one cup of coffee per day
- 48.3% drank two cups of coffee per day
- 6.6% drank three cups of coffee per day
- 3.5% drank more than three cups of coffee per day
The researchers found that those who drank two cups of coffee per day or more than three cups had significantly lower systolic blood pressure than non-coffee drinkers.
Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in arteries when the heart beats. Higher systolic blood pressure levels are linked to a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.
They also found a correlation between higher numbers of cups consumed and other measures of blood pressure, including lower peripheral pulse pressure (PP) — the rate at which blood moves through the body.
They noted, however, that drinking coffee did not affect arterial stiffness — the gradual loss of elasticity in arteries — which correlates to an increased risk for cardiovascular events, dementia, and death.
Dr. Yu-Ming Ni, cardiologist of Non-Invasive Cardiology at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA, not involved in the study, told Medical News Today:
“Those drinking 2 cups of coffee had 5-point lower blood pressure on average than those who didn’t drink coffee. The effect was higher for those drinking more than 3 cups of coffee, with a 9-point lower blood pressure on average compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. This trend towards lower blood pressure with more coffee consumption persisted for different types of blood pressure measurements, including an estimate of a more reliable blood pressure measurement called central blood pressure.
A recent meta-analysis of four similar studies demonstrated similar findings, so this study adds to an existing body of evidence suggesting a relationship between more coffee intake and lower blood pressure.”
How coffee affects blood pressure
When asked about how drinking coffee may reduce blood pressure, Dr. Robert Segal, founder of Manhattan Cardiology, Medical Offices of Manhattan, and co-founder of LabFinder, not involved in the study, told MNT:
“Caffeine in coffee can temporarily increase blood pressure by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, but in the long term, regular coffee consumption can lead to a small reduction in blood pressure due to improved insulin sensitivity and antioxidant effects.”
Dr. John Higgins, M.B.A., M.Phil., is a sports cardiologist at the UTHealth Science Center at Houston – McGovern Medical School and the Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute, Houston, TX, not involved in the study, also told MNT:
“Certain antioxidants in coffee e.g. flavonoids boost production of nitric oxide, which helps the blood vessel wall to dilate and lower blood pressure, as well as other minerals like magnesium, potassium, niacin, and vitamin E, can combat blood vessel aging by blocking the damaging oxidation process and reducing harmful inflammation. Less inflammation and more nitric oxide mean lower blood pressure.”
On the same topic, Dr. Shannon Hoos-Thompson, Cardiologist at The University of Kansas Health System, not involved in the study, told MNT:
“This is a subject that has been looked at repeatedly from several approaches, all over the world, and going back a long time. The general conclusion is that the regular consumption of coffee in moderation is safe with no clear benefit or risk to cardiovascular health.”
When asked about the study’s limitations, Dr. Hoos-Thompson noted that the study did not mention how much coffee constituted ‘one cup’. She added that not knowing the size, concentration, and whether or not beverages were caffeinated further limits the results.
Dr. Ni noted that although bias may have been somewhat limited as the study focused on people in a single town in Northern Italy- meaning the cohort likely had similar diets, genetics, and lifestyle practices- some bias likely remained.
“There may be something about people who drink more coffee that makes them more likely to have lower blood pressure. Perhaps physical activity or eating habits or stress levels, or something else entirely. Unless these additional factors are assessed in the same people and accounted for, it will be difficult to conclude with certainty that coffee is the main driver of better blood pressure in these people,” she explained.
“It is important to also keep in mind that coffee intake was self-reported. Italians drink primarily espresso-based coffee, which is much smaller and lighter than brewed coffee made in the United States. Don’t even start with sweetened coffees with flavor syrups and varied roasting and brewing methods that affect levels of healthy antioxidants in the coffee. The inability to fully account for these differences continues to prevent a conclusive determination of the health benefits of coffee,” she continued.
Dr. Hoos-Thompson said:
“Ultimately, We cannot say coffee lowers blood pressure with this study. It can be added to the data that regular coffee consumption is safe. I would not reference this study when advising patients on coffee consumption.”
Dr. Segel added: “Coffee can have both positive and negative effects on health and its effect on blood pressure can vary from person to person. Drinking coffee can lead to a small reduction in blood pressure, but it is not a substitute for other lifestyle changes that help maintain a healthy blood pressure such as a balanced diet and regular exercise.”
“Most importantly, It’s important to talk to your doctor or cardiologist before making changes to coffee consumption, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or take medication,” he concluded.
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