The research journal Stroke reports that women who drink a cup or more a day of coffee have a reduced risk for stroke. Greater consumption did not reduce the risk further.
The study followed 34,670 women aged 49 to 83 and found a 23% to 25% reduction in incidence of stroke compared to those who drink little or no coffee. During the 10 year follow up there were 1,680 strokes among the sample population.
So far, the mechanism in coffee consumption that effects strokes is not known.
“Additional prospective studies on coffee consumption and stroke incidence as well as mechanistic studies investigating possible effects of coffee consumption on cardiovascular risk factors are warranted,” writes Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, leader of the study. She is the lead researcher in nutritional epidemiology at the National Institute of Environmental Medicine of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
There have been suggestions that coffee actually added a slight increase in the chance for stroke due to the increase in blood pressure and heart rate. The Swedish study seems to allay these concerns.
“It is quite clear that coffee consumption at moderate to even high levels does not increase risk of stroke,” says Eric Rimm, ScD, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Roger Bonomo, MD, director of stroke care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says that giving up coffee to protect your health is not a good idea.
“Eliminating coffee isn’t good for your health,” Roger Bonomo, MD.says, “Keep your coffee habits at a steady state.” He is the director of stroke care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Cathy A. Sila, MD, the George M. Humphrey II Professor of Neurology and the director of the Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center at the Neurological Institute Case Medical Center of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio is not sure which way to go on the issue of coffee and strokes. She urges caution and taking care of the known factors.
“The single most important risk factor for all stroke is high blood pressure, and the vast majority of people either don’t know they have it or know that they do and it is still not being controlled,” she says. “Get your blood pressure measured and if it is elevated, put a plan in place to lower it.” This may include losing weight, reducing salt intake, or taking medication.
“This is the most powerful thing we can do to lower stroke risk,” she says.
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