Traffic Exposure Outranks Coffee in Heart Attacks

February 25, 2011

A study released this week on major triggers of heart attacks listed coffee as one of the triggers. The researchers looked at 36 other studies to come up with a ranking of the most common triggers and similar ranking of triggers from an exposure level standpoint. The researchers were concerned with which triggers are the main culprits for the population as a whole, so the extent of exposure to the risks among the population was part of the scores and ranking. Those interested in the details and the playing with statistics can look up the study (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2810%2962... ) or click on the photo. The main interest for us is the position of coffee on this list. Basically, sitting in traffic and breathing the fumes, and use of cocaine, caused more incidences of heart attack than the other factors. Also listed were physical exertion, heavy meals, anger and other negative emotions, positive emotions, alcohol and coffee consumption, sexual activity, marijuana, and air pollution. Coffee’s ranking on the list, in the middle, needs more clarification. The articles didn’t describe what defined coffee consumption for the purposes of the study. How many cups a day the subjects drank could make a difference. Was the coffee drunk black or with gobs of cream and sugar? Type of preparation affects caffeine levels as well. Indeed, the effect on heart attack incidence is not so clear from the results of other studies. Another article discussed the results of eleven studies on coffee’s contribution to heart disease, and out of the eleven, only three of the studies implicated coffee as a risk factor associated with heart disease. Heart disease is apparently a complex issue and trying to develop a ranking of risk factors seems a difficult task. If you have to sit in heavy traffic, keep cool and don’t get angry and compound the problem. A combination of factors can lead to a heart attack, so the best thing to do is eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, get a moderate amount of exercise and enjoy life. Coffee has many documented health benefits, so moderate use is always recommended. Brew on in good health.



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