Daily coffee consumption is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, atrial fibrillation and to relative longevity, investigators say. The findings held true across two studies of people with and without cardiovascular disease — including those already living with Afib. 

The studies are the largest to look at coffee and heart health, according to the researchers, and will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Annual Scientific Session in April.

Two to three cups is most beneficial

In one, investigators analyzed data from more than 380,000 individuals without known heart disease. Participants who drank two to three cups of coffee a day had a 10% to 15% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, heart failure and heart rhythm problems. Those who drank one cup of coffee a day, meanwhile, had the lowest relative risk of stroke or heart-related death, the researchers reported. 

In another study of more than 34,000 individuals with cardiovascular disease, consuming two to three cups of coffee per day was linked to lower odds of death compared with drinking no coffee.

Afib and coffee consumption 

Physicians are often concerned that coffee may contribute to heart rhythm problems. But the latter study found no association between coffee consumption and atrial fibrillation (AFib) or atrial flutter. In fact, coffee drinkers with Afib were 20% less likely to die from heart-related problems than their peers who did not drink coffee, they reported.

Clinicians often “err on the side of caution and advise them to stop drinking it altogether due to fears that it may trigger dangerous heart rhythms,” said Peter M. Kistler, M.D., of the Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne, Australia. “But our study shows that regular coffee intake is safe and could be part of a healthy diet for people with heart disease.”

People should not feel compelled to increase their coffee intake, however, especially if it makes them feel anxious or uncomfortable, he added.

“There is a whole range of mechanisms through which coffee may reduce mortality and have these favorable effects on cardiovascular disease,” he said.