Gene Can Determine
Heart Attack Risk for Coffee Drinkers - Caffeine May Increase Risk and
Cause Decreased Blood Flow During Exercise
March 7th 2006
2 cups maximum
A new study indicates that there may be genetic link between caffeine
and heart attacks. According to researchers from the University of
Toronto, an enzyme called cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) metabolizes
caffeine in the liver. A gene variation for this enzyme can slow or
quicken caffeine metabolism.
The Toronto team wanted to study whether this gene variation may be
associated with an increased risk of non-fatal heart attacks. They
compared 2,014 patients with a first nonfatal heart attack with 2,014
Their findings showed that participants with the slow-metabolism
variation of the gene, who drank two to three cups of coffee a day, had
a 36-percent increased risk of having a heart attack.
The more coffee the slow-gene participant drank, the more the risk
factor rose. They found that those who drank four or more cups had a
64-percent increased risk. On the other hand, those participants that
had the rapid-metabolism gene variation, who had the same amount of
coffee actually reduced their odds of heart attack by 22 percent and
The study shows that if you limit your coffee intake to 2 cups or less
per day, your increased risk of a nonfatal heart attack will be raised
only slightly. This research was published in the March 8th issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
In a related story, back in January a Zurich team found that coffee may
impair peak heart performance. The Zurich researchers found that in
healthy volunteers, the equivalent of two cups of coffee reduced the
body's ability to boost blood flow to the heart muscle in response to
Usually, the myocardial blood flow needs to increase in order to match
the increased need for oxygen during exercise. Philipp A. Kaufmann,
M.D., said “We found that caffeine may adversely affect this mechanism.
It partly blunts the needed increase in flow.” Philip is a doctor at
the University Hospital Zurich and Center for Integrative Human
Physiology CIHP in Zurich.
The researchers say the blood flow in the heart muscle was not affected
at rest. However, the blood flow measurements taken immediately after
exercise were significantly lower after the participants had taken the
caffeine. This study was published in the January 17th issue of the
Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer
Books on Heart Disease
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