Steeped in research: Tea linked to survival after heart attack

ups per week on average.

During an average follow up of 3.8 years, 313 patients died. About 75 percent of the deaths were from cardiovascular disease. After accounting for differences in age, gender, and clinical and lifestyle characteristics, the researchers found an inverse relationship between tea consumption and death.

Moderate tea use was associated with a 28 percent lower death rate compared to the death rate of non-drinkers. People who reported heavy tea consumption had a 44 percent lower death rate during the follow-up period.

We found that tea drinkers generally had lower death rates regardless of age, gender, smoking status, obesity, hypertension, diabetes or previous heart attack, Mukamal says.

Caffeine consumption per se did not affect mortality risk after myocardial infarction, he says. The researchers evaluated caffeine intake from sources other than tea and found no association with the risk of dying during follow up.

Several possible mechanisms could explain an association between tea consumption and survival, Mukamal says.

A recent randomized trial found that black tea consumption improved endothelial function (the blood vessels ability to relax) in people with coronary heart disease, he says. Flavonoids also inhibit the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Oxidized LDL may promote atherosclerosis, so this property of tea may help prevent additional heart attacks, at least in some patients.

In addition, flavonoids could have an anti-clotting effect. Studies have shown that flavonoids kept blood platelets from clumping together in test tubes, but whether this occurs in the body is unclear.

The findings should apply to different types of tea, Mukamal says. Black tea accounts for most tea consumption in North America, as well as the largest portion of flavonoid intake, he says.

Other foods rich in flavonoids include apples, onions and broccoli.

Mukamal sa

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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