Drinking coffee okay for heart patients? Get second opinions!

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Editor's note: Read this and you may find something elsewhere. You decide whether drinking coffee is good for you or not. Food consumers should always remember that coffee has zero nutrition.

A new study has found coffee drinkers were less likely to be hospitalized for heart rhythm problems, the American Heart Association, a physician interest group reported.  

But be aware that the study is not a trial and it does not prove that drinking coffee as a cause can help cut risk of heart rhythm disturbances.

The study showed that those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day was associated with 18 percent reduced risk of being hospitalized for heart rhythm disturbances and those who drank one to three cups a day had a 7 percent reduction in the risk.

The results were reported at the American Heart Association’s 50th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

"Coffee drinking is related to lower risk of hospitalization for rhythm problems, but this association does not prove cause and effect," said Arthur Klatsky, M.D., coauthor of the study, at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program.

Dr. Klatsky added "These data should be reassuring to people who drink moderate amounts of coffee that their habit is not likely to cause a rhythm disturbance."

The study also compared those with and without symptoms or history of heart and respiratory disease and found for both groups, four cups of coffee per day were associated with fewer hospitalizations for rhythm disturbances.

"This study does not mean that people should drink coffee to prevent rhythm problems," Klatsky said. "It supports the idea that people who are at risk for rhythm problems or who have rhythm problems do not need to abstain from coffee."

A health observer disagreed. He suggested that some non-coffee drinkers avoid coffee because of their heart conditions, which may be negatively impacted by drinking coffee, meaning that overall coffee drinkers may be more likely to be heart healthy compared to non-drinkers in the first place.

Dr. Klatsky and colleagues found the associations after analyzing data on coffee drinking and the rate of being hospitalized for heart rhythm disturbances from 130,000 men and women aged 18 to 90 years.

The findings are inconsistent with previous studies.

Coffee has been associated with a series of adverse effects on human health, according to a review on coffee and coronary heart disease published in the Nov-Dec 1989 issue of Progress in cardiovascular diseases.

In the review, Rosmarin P.C. from the University of Tennessee in Memphis, TN pointed out that coffee has the potential to induce cardiac arrhythmia including potentially lethal ventricular ectopy in certain individuals.

One epidemiological study of 4558 Australians led by Shirlow M.J. and Mathers C.D. from the University of Sydney in Sidney, Australia found daily consumption of four to five cups of coffee was linked to an increase in risk of palpitations by 60 percent in men and 70 percent in women.

Drinking coffee was also linked to increased odds of having tremor, headache and insomnia both in men and women.

The researchers said in their report published in the June 1985 issue of International Journal of Epidemiology that the culprit was caffeine as they found the stimulant was associated with the increased adverse effects regardless of its sources.

Another epidemiological study led by Løchen M.L. and Rasmussen K. from the University of Tromsø, in Norway found palpitations have been associated with heavy coffee drinking.

For the study published in the June 1996 issue of Scandinavian journal of social medicine, the authors surveyed 10,497 people aged 40 to 42 years and found the association.

Heart Rhythm Society says on its website that "Caffeine is the substance most commonly associated with arrhythmia — particularly with fast heartbeats (tachycardia). Caffeinated beverages (soft drinks, coffee and tea) and foods (chocolate) can trigger heart palpitations, fluttering, pounding or racing in some people."

Rosmarin said "it appears that, at least in moderate amounts in otherwise healthy persons, coffee is a safe beverage."

The health observer, who did not want to be named, warned that it is inadequate to encourage those who are at risk of heart rhythm irregularities or other heart conditions to drink coffee and doing so would only benefits coffee makers and heart physicians.

For more information on adverse effects associated with coffee drinking, refer to http://www.teeccino.com/heart.aspx

By David Liu

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