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Two cups of coffee vs green tea: Which is good for your heart if you have high BP?

If you are a coffee drinker and have a blood pressure of 160/100 mm Hg or higher, then you might face double the risk of death from cardiovascular disease if you drink more than two cups of coffee daily, according to a study. But drinking green tea or just one cup of coffee did not have the same effect.

The findings apply to coffee drinkers with a high blood pressure – not to people whose blood pressure is not considered severe, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The researchers also found that those who only drank one coffee a day and consumed green tea daily were not at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, whatever their blood pressure measurement, even though both drinks contain caffeine. The 19-year-long study involved more than 6,570 men and 12,000 women, aged from 40 to 79 at the start of research, who were chosen from the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study for Evaluation of Cancer Risk.

Caffeine has been researched over the years for its beneficial and damaging effects on heart health. This study happens to be in line with them. But all of them have favoured moderate consumption. You can expect to get around 80 to 90 mg of caffeine from an average cup of coffee and it raises BP, heart rate and constricts the blood vessels. So, in high BP patients, excessive coffee-drinking accelerates adverse events. Also, excessive coffee drinking is a surrogate marker of excessive stress that the individual undergoes at work or home. This, coupled with the physiological effects of excessive caffeine and an unhealthy lifestyle, definitely can damage heart health,” says Dr Neeraj Bhalla, Senior Director, Cardiology, BLK Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi.

“The study corroborates what we already knew for a long time. In our nutritional advisory to heart patients and even those with hypertension, we always caution them against drinking too much coffee. Caffeine overuse increases the heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety levels and is definitely not recommended for high risk groups. Green tea, on the contrary, has very minimal caffeine content, which does not impact either the heart rate or metabolism to a damaging extent,” says Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head, Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Max Healthcare.

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The study’s senior author, Hiroyasu Iso, MD, PhD, MPH, Director of the Institute for Global Health Policy Research, Bureau of International Health Cooperation, National Centre for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo, Japan, and professor emeritus at Osaka University, said: “Our study aimed to determine whether the known protective effect of coffee also applies to individuals with different degrees of hypertension; and examined the effects of green tea in the same population. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to find an association between drinking two or more cups of coffee daily and cardiovascular disease mortality among people with severe hypertension. These findings may support the assertion that people with severe high blood pressure should avoid drinking excessive coffee. Because people with severe hypertension are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine, its harmful effects may outweigh its protective effects and may increase the risk of death.”

Previous studies have indicated that a coffee a day may be beneficial to the health of heart attack survivors and may prevent heart attacks or strokes in healthy people. It has also been suggested in other studies that drinking coffee regularly may reduce people’s risk of developing some chronic illnesses, may help lower the risk of depression and may help control appetite.

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The researchers concluded that further study is needed to discover more about the effects of coffee and green tea consumption in people with high blood pressure.

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