Seniors Favorite Drink Coffee May Improve Blood Flow
in Small Vessels
New study takes us one step closer to understanding
how coffee might benefit cardiovascular health; previously linked to
lower risk of dying from heart disease, stroke
20, 2013 – The caffeine in a cup of coffee appears to improve your blood
flow by helping your small blood vessels work better, according to
research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific
The study adds to a growing body of research about
coffee, the most widely consumed beverage worldwide. Previous studies
showed that drinking coffee is linked to lower risks of dying from heart
disease and stroke, and that high doses of caffeine may improve the
function of larger arteries.
This study of 27 healthy adults showed – for the
first time – that drinking a cup of
caffeinated coffee significantly
improved blood flow in a finger, which is a measure of how well the
inner lining of the body’s smaller blood vessels work.
Specifically, participants who drank a cup of
caffeinated coffee had a 30 percent increase in blood flow over a
75-minute period compared to those who drank decaffeinated coffee.
“This gives us a clue about how coffee may help
improve cardiovascular health,” said Masato Tsutsui, M.D., Ph.D., lead
researcher and a cardiologist and professor in the pharmacology
department at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan. The study
was funded in part by the All Japan Coffee Association.
Study participants were people who did not
regularly drink coffee, ranging in age from 22 to 30. On one day, each
participant drank one five-ounce cup of either regular or decaffeinated
coffee. Then researchers measured finger blood flow with laser Doppler
flowmetry, a non-invasive technique for gauging blood circulation on a
Links to Popular
Topics at American Heart Association
Two days later, the experiment was repeated with
the other type of coffee. Neither the researchers nor the participants
knew when they were drinking caffeinated coffee.
The researchers noted blood pressure, heart rate,
and vascular resistance levels. They also took blood samples to analyze
levels of caffeine and to rule out the role of hormones on blood vessel
Compared to decaf, caffeinated coffee slightly
raised participants’ blood pressure and improved vessel inner lining
function. Heart rate levels were the same between the two groups.
It’s still unclear how caffeine actually works to
improve small blood vessel function, although Tsutsui suggests that
caffeine may help open blood vessels and reduce
“If we know how the positive effects of coffee
work, it could lead to a new treatment strategy for cardiovascular
disease in the future,” said Tsutsui.
“Caffeine is in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate
and some nuts. Whether high caffeine intake increases the risk of
coronary heart disease is still
under study,” according to the American Heart Assocation.
“Many studies have been done to see if there's a
direct link between caffeine, coffee drinking and coronary heart
disease. The results are conflicting. This may be due to the way the
studies were done and confounding dietary factors. However, moderate
coffee drinking (1–2 cups per day) doesn't seem to be harmful.”
Good news may warrant changes to current heart failure prevention guidelines of American Heart Association that say coffee drinking
may be risky for heart patients; bit of bad news - excess coffee bad! -
June 27, 2012
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