August 16, 2006

Coffee Might Trigger First Heart Attack in Some

TUESDAY, Aug. 15 -- An occasional cup of coffee might trigger first heart attacks in some people, a new study suggests.

"One cup or less of coffee per day may set off heart attacks in people with a sedentary lifestyle or with three or more risk factors for heart disease," said study author Ana Baylin, an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health at Brown University, in Rhode Island.

This latest finding will most likely keep the coffee debate percolating among health experts. Previous research has suggested that coffee does not raise heart risks, and might even protect against high blood pressure and diabetes. As a matter of fact, only decaffeinated coffee has been shown to possibly boost the chances of cardiovascular trouble.

"We don't know, but think it may be caffeine, because that is the active component in coffee that we know increases sympathetic nerve activity, which raises blood pressure," Baylin speculated.

And, she cautioned, the findings don't apply to the general population, only for people who are already at risk for heart attacks. Some risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and smoking. "People who don't have these risk factors don't need to limit their coffee intake," she said.

For more on how drinking coffee might raise your heart attack risk, go to the American Heart Association.

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