A cup of coffee a day keeps heart disease away

A new study suggests that consumption of a mainly plant-based diet was related to decreased heart failure risks among people without known heart failure or heart disease.

Researchers used machine learning to analyze data from the long-running Framingham Heart Study, which includes information about what people eat and their cardiovascular health. They found that consuming coffee was associated with a seven percent decreased risk of heart failure and an eight percent decreased risk of stroke compared to those who did not consume coffee.

A press release stressed that this type of study demonstrates an observed association, but does not prove cause and effect.

The study was carried out using an artificially intelligent machine-learning system. The researchers tried to run a similar analysis for the consumption of red meat but the connection was more hard to validate because the definition of what counts as red meat varied between the Framingham Heart Study and those studies that were comparable. That being said, it is now hard to verify these results because the definition of what constitutes "red meat" differs between studies.

The scientists will go on to explore risk factors for those two events and aim to better understand how our diets influence our cardiovascular health. The current risk-assessment tools used to predict whether someone might develop heart disease are very good, the authors noted in their presentation, but they're not 100% accurate, suggesting that more risk factors could still be identified.

Heart failure is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when the heart is too week to pump blood efficiently around the body. In this case, red meat consumption was identified as a potential risk factor, although here, the correlation was less striking.

Senior author Professor David Kao said: 'Machine learning may be a useful addition to the way we look at data and help us find new ways to lower the risk of heart failure and strokes'.

"Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, cutting down on salt, and maintaining a healthy weight are all important parts of a balanced diet that helps lower the risk of heart disease and stroke", Taylor recommends.

Presentation location: Population Science Section, Science and Technology Hall.

The prior research was first introduced at American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions held in Anaheim, California. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The Dallas-based association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke.

Vanessa Coleman