Coffee May Mitigate Risk Of Heart Failure

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

Good news for those who love their daily coffee (or two); a new meta-analysis (study of studies) published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure suggests that moderate coffee consumption reduces the risk of heart failure [1].

Cup of coffee

The study adds to the growing list of potential health benefits coffee consumption confers, including a reduced risk of liver cancer and prevention of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease.

In the most recent study, researchers combined the results of five different studies (for a total of more than 140,000 participants) and found that those who consumed a moderate amount of coffee each day were significantly less likely to experience heart failure than either those who did not consume coffee at all, or those who consumed excessive quantities. The amount of coffee most significantly associated with reduced risk of heart failure was 4 servings per day, where a “serving” is 6 oz.

As compelling an argument for coffee consumption as these results may seem, it’s nevertheless important to bear in mind that the results are correlational; no causal relationship was proven. That is to say, based upon the study, it appears that there’s a strong link between moderate coffee consumption and reduced risk of heart failure, but it’s impossible to say whether the moderate coffee consumption causes the reduced risk of heart failure, or whether an independent third factor is involved. As a purely speculative example, for instance, those who are more likely to consume moderate levels of coffee might also be more likely to exercise, which could explain their reduced risk of heart failure. As such, the results of this study can’t be interpreted to mean that those who do not drink coffee should start out of concern for heart health.

Based upon the known negative health effects of caffeine in large quantities, however, it might be worth cutting down on coffee consumption for those who are consuming more than 4 servings — that is to say, 24 ounces — per day, given the correlation between this level of coffee consumption and increased risk of heart failure.

Major risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, high blood glucose (and/or type 2 diabetes), smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and a diet high in saturated fat and/or trans fat [2]. Genetics also play a role, as does gender (males are at greater risk) and advancing age.

Individuals who are concerned about heart health can talk to a physician about risk factors and ways to mitigate potential danger.


  1. Mostofsky et al. Habitual Coffee Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis. Circ Heart Fail. 2012 Jun 26. [Epub ahead of print].
    View abstract
  2. Heart-Health Screenings. American Heart Association. Accessed 2012 July 8.
About the Author

Kirstin Hendrickson, Ph.D., is a science journalist and faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University. She has a PhD in Chemistry, and studied mechanisms of damage to DNA during her graduate career. Kirstin also holds degrees in Zoology and Psychology. Currently, both in her teaching and in her writing, she’s interested in methods of communicating about science, and in the reciprocal relationship between science and society. She has written a textbook called Chemistry In The World, which focuses on the ways in which chemistry affects everyday life, and the ways in which humans affect each other and the environment through chemistry.