One of the longest running heart studies comes from Framingham, Massachusetts. It began in 1948 and continues to this day. The Framingham Heart Study is a longitudinal epidemiological study that collects data on its participants and records their health. Scientists reported recently on new findings that java lovers reduce their chances of heart failure or stroke.
How Researchers Discovered Lower Chances of Heart Failure and Stroke:
In most studies, investigators start with an hypothesis and collect the data that will allow them to accept or reject it, based on statistical analysis. However, the amount of data available on thousands of Framingham volunteers is mind-boggling. In this instance, researchers analyzed this information in a different way. Rather than testing hypotheses, they used computer algorithms to detect associations.
This is how they discovered that coffee drinkers have lower chances of heart failure or a stroke. The risk fell by 7 or 8 percent for every extra cup of coffee downed in a week, compared to people who never drink coffee.
Data from Other Studies Agree:
Recognizing that this association might be an anomaly, the scientists also analyzed data from two other large studies: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and the Cardiovascular Heart Study. The same type of association was apparent in those as well.
American Heart Association Meeting Report Poster Presentation M2040, Nov. 13, 2017
Scientists draw the line at saying coffee itself lowers your chances of heart failure: that would be attributing cause. Based on the data available, all we can say is that there is a link, not that coffee drinking prevents heart failure. The effect that was seen is small (less than 10 percent). Still, you might enjoy your morning cup more thinking about it.
Other Health Benefits of Coffee:
This is not the first study to suggest that coffee drinkers might be improving their health. A Spanish study found that coffee drinkers live longer. That was also the finding from two other studies, one in the US and one in Europe. The new research is interesting because until fairly recently, doctors would advise their heart failure patients to avoid coffee. A study in 2016 showed, however, that this advice is unnecessary.