Caffeine and the Metabolism Connection to Heart Attacks
Research results show that there is a connection between how your body metabolizes caffeine and your heart attack risk. The research study shows that what is important is how quickly your body can metabolize the caffeine.
Individuals were studied between 1994 and 2004 and those with a gene variant that caused them to metabolize caffeine slowly were at a third greater risk of having a heart attack when they drank two or three cups of beverage containing caffeine a day. Those odds increased to 64% if they consumed four or more cups of caffeine containing beverages a day. These odds are compared to individuals who drank less than one cup of caffeine containing beverage.
Individuals who have a gene variant that causes them to metabolize caffeine quickly can actually reduce their odds of a heart attack by 22%.
Previous studies that have tried to link caffeine consumption with heart attack risk have been inconclusive.
It is a known fact that caffeine raises the heart rate, and possibly may also be linked to a rise in blood pressure, but it is not clear exactly if it is the caffeine alone or other chemicals that cause the heart attack risk percentages.
Other studies such as the one done at Harvard University, the University of Costa Rica and the University of Toronto have all concluded that there are two different types of individuals when it comes to processing caffeine. There are those individuals who have livers which process caffeine at a rapid rate and those individuals who process caffeine at a slower rate.
The variant gene is called CYP1A2.
According to one study the risk to the group who metabolizes caffeine slowly is greater for younger individuals who drink 4 cups or more of coffee a day. One study also showed that individuals who were “couch potatoes” and those with other risk factors for heart disease were also at greater risk of having a heart attack after drinking caffeine-containing beverages.
It also seems that according to the Costa Rica study, those who drink only one cup of coffee (light drinkers) increase their risk more than those who are coffee junkies. Also, if an individual already has 3 or more heart disease risk factors they more than double their risk of having a heart attack.
The studies strongly suggest that impaired caffeine metabolism does indeed play a role in the risk of heart attack.
Individuals who already have several risk factors for having a heart attack or those who live a sedentary lifestyle and drink coffee should be encouraged to do all they can to decrease their risk for heart attack by taking control over those risk factors that they can make changes with such as whether or not they drink coffee, increasing their activity level and taking medication if they have high blood pressure.
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