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Struggle With Heart Issues? Drinking Coffee in Moderation Won't Hurt

Someone hands holding a mug of black coffee before drinking.

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Key Takeaways

  • For people who consume coffee who have cardiovascular issues, it is likely safe to continue to drink coffee.
  • Studies that look at the association between coffee and cardiovascular issues often fail to consider the types of coffee people drink and what people add to it, like sugar.
  • Fatigue can be associated with new or worsening heart issues.

If you struggle with cardiovascular issues, you likely won't have to give up your daily cup of coffee. A February research article published in the Heart Failure Journal Report found that drinking more coffee is associated with decreased heart failure risk.

The analysis of three large, well-known heart disease studies found that drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee was associated with decreased heart failure risk.

But experts say there is not enough evidence to recommend increased coffee consumption as a measure to decrease the risk of heart failure. Instead, if you're already at risk of heart disease, drinking a cup of coffee a day likely won't hurt you.

"I think of it as not being harmful, but I don't see the linkage for a connection there," Alexandra Lajoie, MD, a non-invasive cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California, tells Verywell. "I think there could be some confounding factors responsible for that such as people who have risk factors for heart disease and have heart disease may avoid coffee, so that may be an association there."

What This Means For You

If you're at risk for cardiovascular issues or are currently being treated, doctors say drinking coffee likely won't hurt you, as long as it's in moderation. While there is no consensus on whether drinking more coffee helps with heart conditions there are a few measures you can take like exercising regularly and eating foods high in fiber.

Continue Your Coffee Routine

The three studies analyzed in the research article suggest that continuing to drink an appropriate amount of coffee per day—three or fewer cups a day—can have health benefits for people with heart issues.

Different types of coffee have different amounts of caffeine, which is something that Sitaramesh Emani, MD, a cardiologist at Ohio State University, tells Verywell people should be aware of when considering their coffee consumption. "The average person who is drinking a couple of cups of coffee, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, this is an okay pattern," Emani says. "The venti at Starbucks or a large coffee from another place may be very different from the coffee that I brewed myself that I'm drinking right now."

Overall, Emani tells his cardiovascular patients that it is okay to continue drinking coffee. "The first thing I tell them is 'I like my coffee too, and I'm not about to take coffee away from anybody,'" he says. "For most heart failure patients and most cardiology patients, there isn't a need to completely eliminate coffee or caffeine of any source."

Excessive coffee drinking or caffeine intake from another type of drink may have the opposite effect. A study published in February 2021 in the Clinical Nutrition journal found that having six cups of coffee or more per day can increase the number of lipids (fats) in your blood, which could significantly heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease.

The types of coffee people get and what they add to it could also play a role in whether someone's coffee routine is healthy. "Studies may suggest that there's a protective effect or at least no harm, with two or even more than three cups of coffee a day," he says, "That's different, again, if I'm having three very large lattes that are full of calories. Repeated excessive calorie intake can be detrimental to heart health."

Symptoms to Watch For

A 2008 study published in the Vascular Health and Risk Management Journal suggests that an appropriate amount of coffee consumption per day is not associated with an increased risk of hypertension. If her patients are drinking more coffee than usual, Lajoie asks them to monitor their blood pressure.

"Once patients become habitual coffee drinkers, their blood pressure settles," Lajoie says. "If patients do have high blood pressure, I tell them to monitor their blood pressure if they're drinking more coffee, to see if they have an increase in blood pressure with more coffee or caffeine." Lajoie also asks her patients to watch for increased heart palpitations after drinking coffee.

Emani also cautions people to be careful of drinking more coffee if they are experiencing higher levels of fatigue because sleepiness could be a symptom of new or worsening health conditions. "We have to be careful and making sure we're not missing worsening cardiac conditions," he says. "I do consider sleep hygiene as part of that because there are many patients that have sleep apnea or other sleep conditions."

Evidence-Based Ways to Address Heart Disease

For now, Lajoie is not recommending increased coffee consumption to manage heart conditions. There are evidence-based ways that people can work to manage their heart health, including managing high blood pressure. "The one that often is overlooked is treatment of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which is a risk factor for heart failure," Lajoie says.

In addition to medical care with health professionals, there are also lifestyle changes that people can make. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following:

  • Eat foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol can help prevent high cholesterol
  • Do not drink too much alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular physical activity
  • Do not smoke cigarettes
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Article Sources
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  1. Stevens L, Linstead E, Hall J, Kao D. Association between coffee intake and incident heart failure risk. Circ Heart Fail. 2021;14(2). doi:10.1161/circheartfailure.119.006799

  2. Zhou A, Hyppönen E. Habitual coffee intake and plasma lipid profile: Evidence from UK BiobankClin Nutr. 2021. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2020.12.042

  3. Geleijnse M. Habitual coffee consumption and blood pressure: An epidemiological perspectiveVasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4:963-970. doi:10.2147/vhrm.s3055

  4. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevent Heart Disease. Updated: April 21, 2020