Here we are: 2023. New year, new you. With the beginning of another calendar year, many folks will take this time to make positive changes to their lifestyle in order to live a happier, healthier existence. This may even mean cutting back, if not eliminating entirely, some of their most beloved habits. And unfortunately for those with severe hypertension, this may mean drinking less coffee, as a new study finds drinking two cups of coffee a day to be associated with a 100% increase in mortality rate for those with high blood pressure.
Published recently in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA’s peer-reviewed journal, the study followed nearly 19,000 participants between ages 40 and 79 for 19 years as part of the Japanese Collaborative Cohort Study for Evaluation of Cancer Risk, where they would provide “data through health examinations and self-administered questionnaires assessing lifestyle, diet, and medical history.” Included in that self-reported questionnaire was information about coffee and green tea consumption. When cross-referencing participants’ coffee consumption data with blood pressure—grouped into five categories: Optimal and Normal, High Normal, and Grades 1, 2, and 3—the researchers noted a grim pattern. For those with severe hypertension, Grades 2 and 3 (160/100 mm Hg or higher), drinking two or more cups of coffee a day was associated with a doubled risk of heart-related death when compared to those who consumed no coffee at all.
These findings fall in stark contrast with those who consumed one cup of coffee daily or green tea of any amount, both of which showed no association with any increased mortality risk.
Seemingly walking a tightrope, the health differences between one and two cups of coffee for those with heart and blood pressure issues appears to jibe with prior research. Per the AHA, past studies have found that one cup of coffee may help heart attack survivors “by lowering their risk of death after a heart attack and may prevent heart attacks or strokes in healthy individuals” whereas too much coffee could lead to raised blood pressure and heart palpitations.
The study’s authors are quick to note that the issue is far from settled, though. Their findings are only observational and are limited by self-reporting of critical data as well as static blood pressure measurements, which could change over the course of the 19-year survey. Still, the findings offer enough for those with severe hypertension to take pause. If you suffer from hypertension, 2023 might be the year you consider limiting consumption to just one cup of coffee followed by a switch to green tea.