Wednesday, 26 June 2013


I’m new to this blogging concept so you may have to forgive me if this seems a little flat – perhaps it’s because I’ve been cutting back on my morning coffee. But thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s all down to the French. Merci mes amis!

Last week I blogged on blood pressure and possible lifestyle choices that people can make to lessen their blood pressure and thus improve their cardiovascular risk profile. I hadn’t expected to return to that subject quite so quickly but you see coffee is dear to my heart and recently people have been asking me about coffee intake and blood pressure; so I couldn’t turn down this opportunity to comment on new research from our colleagues in France. See F. Thomas-Jean, B. Pannier, et al.

Years ago during a health screening it was noted that my blood pressure was high. Since then I’ve surprised my inner skeptic by reducing my readings to an acceptable level by changing my diet, decreasing my salt intake, losing weight and exercising more. The sceptic in me was not surprised that my blood pressure fell as there is ample evidence to support this. What surprised is that it fell by so much. In spite of this my intake of coffee has been questioned.

Now to some, my consumption of coffee is a tad excessive; to me every drop is a glorious moment so it is possible that I’ve been over-doing it. But thankfully I might now be in a position to justify taking another cup.
Presented this week during the European Society of Hypertension (ESH) 2013 Scientific Sessions, research showed a small but statistically significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure for individuals who drank tea or coffee. Granted this research was retrospective and based on a self reported questionnaire and indeed was unable to define the exact caffeine content of the beverages consumed, so it will probably be challenged.

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However there is a paucity of good evidence in relation to links between coffee and high blood pressure. The most recent ESH/ESC guidelines back this up, as summarised by the following quote. “With regard to coffee consumption, a recent systematic review found that most of the available studies (10 RCTs and 5 cohort studies) were of insufficient quality to allow a firm recommendation to be given for or against coffee consumption as related to hypertension.”

Given this lack of clarity overall I think I’m going to embrace the new findings for the time being. Now for a quick trip to the patisserie and a small espresso.

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