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Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee?

Not if you have high blood pressure, study says

FRIDAY, May 17, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Say it ain't so, Joe.

Coffee may be dangerous for people with high blood pressure because it could stiffen their arteries and increase their risk of stroke and heart failure, says a new study from the Athens Medical School in Greece.

"Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world," says lead author Dr. Charalambos Vlachopoulos in a released statement.

"At least 8 out of 10 adults in western society consume caffeinated beverages, and this study proves that people with hypertension face the risk of higher blood pressure and increased arterial stiffness when they consume caffeine," he adds.

Vlachopoulos and his team looked at the effects caffeine had on 10 patients with high blood pressure. Each day they were given either a placebo or a capsule that contained 250 mg. of caffeine -- equal to 2 to 3 cups of coffee -- and their arterial stiffness was measured through pulse wave velocity.

When people in the study took the caffeine, their arteries stiffened. That didn't happen on the days they received the placebo. Caffeine also caused an increase in systolic and diastolic pressure. These effects lasted for at least three hours after taking the caffeine pill.

The study is being presented this week at the American Society of Hypertension's annual meeting in New York City.

"A coffee break could be a hazard for hypertensive patients but we need more information," Vlachopoulos adds.

Until there is more research, he maintains, people with high blood pressure and the elderly should be cautious about their caffeine consumption.

More information

The latest research is based on studies Vlachopoulos presented last year to a cardiology conference in Orlando.

SOURCE: Report from May 2002 annual meeting, American Society of Hypertension, New York City
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