Green tea and your heart

By Nicholas Bakalar

Recovery from a heart attack or stroke can involve a complex regimen of medications, physical therapy, lifestyle changes and sometimes surgery. But one simple act may provide an additional benefit: drinking green tea or coffee.

Japanese researchers collected lifestyle, diet and medical information on 46,213 people aged 40 to 79, of whom 478 had survived a stroke and 1,214 a heart attack. They followed them for an average of 19 years.

The researchers found that compared with stroke survivors who drank no green tea, those who drank as little as one or two cups a day had a 44% reduced risk of death from any cause. The more green tea they drank, the lower their risk, and those who drank more than seven cups a day had a 62% lower risk of premature death than those who drank none. The effect on heart attack survivors was similar.

Coffee drinking was also associated with a lower risk for all-cause mortality, but the effect was smaller and not significant for stroke survivors.

The study, published in the journal Stroke, controlled for age, sex, smoking, alcohol consumption, past medical history, and other health and behavioral characteristics. But there were limitations. The data depended on self-reports, which are not always reliable, and the researchers did not have information about behavioral changes over the long follow-up period. The study was also observational, so causality cannot be determined, the researchers note.

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