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Drinking coffee improves vascular function in people with hypertension.

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide. It is rich in polyphenolic compounds, including quercetin, chlorogenic acid, and others, that exert beneficial health effects in humans. Drinking coffee is linked with reduced disease burden and increased lifespan, possibly due to coffee’s ability to induce autophagy. A recent study suggests that coffee consumption improves vascular function in people with hypertension.

Hypertension is a chronic elevation of blood pressure that, over time, causes end-organ damage and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney dysfunction, and death. Key features of hypertension include endothelial dysfunction, an alteration of the vascular endothelium (the thin layer of cells that lines the blood vessels), and vascular smooth muscle dysfunction. Medical professionals typically use flow-mediated dilation to assess endothelial function and nitroglycerine-induced vasodilation to assess vascular smooth muscle function. When combined, the two measures are robust predictors of future cardiovascular events.

The study involved 462 adults (average age, 65 years) who had hypertension. The investigators assessed the participants' flow-mediated dilation and nitroglycerine-induced vasodilation and collected information about their coffee intake. They assigned the participants to one of two groups: coffee consumers and non-consumers.

They found that most coffee consumers drank about two cups of coffee per day. Coffee consumers were roughly half as likely to have endothelial dysfunction or vascular smooth muscle dysfunction, compared to non-consumers, even after considering other factors, including age, sex, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, smoking, and systolic blood pressure.

These findings suggest that moderate coffee intake improves measures of endothelial and vascular health. The authors posited that these benefits may be related to the effects of polyphenolic compounds in coffee, especially chlorogenic acid, a bioactive compound that exerts antioxidant properties, among others.

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