Coffee improves small blood vessel function
Friday, November 22, 2013. The American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013, held November 16-20 this year in Dallas, was the site of a presentation by Masato Tsutsui, MD, PhD of a benefit for coffee in improving small vessel blood flow. Previous studies have revealed improvement in large artery function in association with caffeine consumption, as well as a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular events over a given period of time. "Although microvessels regulate vascular resistance and tissue blood flow, and play an essential role in the circulatory system, no study has ever addressed the effect of coffee on microvascular function," Dr Tsutsui and his coauthors write.
The current double-blinded study included 27 healthy men and women aged 22 to 30 who were not coffee drinkers. Participants were given a five ounce cup of coffee that contained caffeine or one cup of decaffeinated coffee, and finger blood flow was measured via Doppler flowmetry, which evaluates microscopic blood circulation. (Blood flow to the fingers is an indicator of small blood vessel endothelial function.) After two days, those who received coffee that contained caffeine were given a cup of decaffeinated coffee and participants who received decaffeinated were given coffee with caffeine, and blood flow was re-evaluated.
Dr Tsutsui's team found that blood flow increased by 30% over a 75 minute period among those who received coffee containing caffeine in comparison with those that received the decaffeinated beverage. There was no significant difference in heart rate observed between the two groups.
"This gives us a clue about how coffee may help improve cardiovascular health," stated Dr Tsutsui who is a cardiologist and professor in the pharmacology department at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan. "If we know how the positive effects of coffee work, it could lead to a new treatment strategy for cardiovascular disease in the future."
"Our double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study demonstrated, for the first time, that caffeine contained in a cup of coffee ameliorates microvascular endothelial function in healthy individuals," the authors conclude. "These findings may explain, at least in part, the association of coffee consumption with reduced mortality of cardiovascular disease."
An article published on March 18, 2013 in the journal Vascular Medicine suggests that the consumption of boiled coffee could be the reason for the exceptional longevity of residents of the Greek island Ikaria, which has a high percentage of long-lived individuals. While 0.1 percent of Europeans survive longer than 90 years, ten times as many inhabitants of Ikaria live to the age of 90 or older.
The study included 142 residents of Ikaria aged 66 to 91. The participants underwent ultrasound assessment of flow-mediated dilation to assess endothelial function, a measure of cardiovascular health. Responses to dietary questionnaires were used to quantify coffee intake as low, moderate or high.
While flow mediated dilation increased with coffee intake, drinking boiled Greek coffee was associated with better endothelial function in comparison with drinking other types of coffee, even among subjects with hypertension. "Boiled Greek type of coffee, which is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants and contains only a moderate amount of caffeine, seems to gather benefits compared to other coffee beverages," lead researcher Gerasimos Siasos of the University of Athens Medical School explained.
"To our knowledge, there are no clinical studies evaluating the effects of chronic coffee consumption on endothelial function, especially in subjects with established cardiovascular risk factors such as elderly individuals," the authors write.
"The present study provides evidence that chronic consumption of the boiled Greek type of coffee is associated with improved endothelial function in elderly individuals with an increased burden of cardiovascular risk factors," they conclude. "Given the widespread use of coffee beverages across the world and the fact that even small health effects of coffee could have a large impact on public health, further studies are needed to document the exact beneficial mechanisms of coffee in vascular integrity."
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