A couple of cups of coffee a day may help some heart attack patients avoid further serious problems, provided they have normal blood pressure, researchers found.
The finding is somewhat surprising, given the fact that strong coffee can cause palpitations.
A study of 374 patients who had a heart attack or other acute heart problems found that those with normal blood pressure and who drank one or two cups of coffee a day were 88 percent less likely than non-coffee drinkers to develop a condition in which the heart fails to pump blood effectively.
The condition, known as left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD), is a common precursor of heart failure.
The protective effect, however, was not seen in patients with high blood pressure, where coffee drinking is linked to an increased likelihood of developing LVSD.
“Coffee contains several biologically active compounds which may have either beneficial or harmful effects on the cardiovascular system,” said Greek investigator Christina-Maria Kastorini.
Coffee is a rich source of chlorogenic acid and antioxidants, which have protective properties. However, in people with hypertension, its negative effect on blood pressure appears to cancel this out.
The research was conducted by a team at Harokopio University and the Hippokration Hospital in Athens, Greece. The findings were presented at a European Society of Cardiology meeting in Prague recently.