Harvard Heart Letter

RX for heart failure: coffee

Although coffee was once suspected of being bad for the heart, researchers are finding that coffee may actually be good for the heart. In the one of the latest studies, a team from Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center concluded that drinking a modest amount of coffee regularly may protect against heart failure. By examining five high-quality Scandinavian studies on coffee drinking habits, they found that people who drank the equivalent of two 8-ounce cups of coffee a day had up to an 11% lower risk of the disease. The protective effects appeared to diminish with higher levels of coffee consumption and disappeared in people who drank five or more cups per day. The studies did not discuss brew strength or whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated. However, Scandinavian coffee tends to be stronger than home-brewed American coffee and is typically caffeinated. Although the studies did not explain how coffee might ward off heart failure, other studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and often have lower blood pressure—both of which would decrease the chance of developing heart disease and, subsequently, heart failure.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »