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Heartbeat: Highlights from this issue
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  1. Catherine M Otto
  1. Correspondence to Professor Catherine M Otto, Division of Cardiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA; cmotto{at}u.washington.edu

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Almost everyone likes drinking coffee! Thus, data suggesting that coffee might actually be good for us is always greeted with enthusiasm—the study by Dr Yosoo Chang and colleagues (see page 686) in this issue of Heart has the highest Altmetric score of any paper we have published, reflecting everyone's interest in this topic. In this cross-sectional study, over 25 thousand young and middle aged asymptomatic healthy men and women provided food frequency data using a validated questionnaire and also underwent health screening and computed tomographic measurement of coronary artery calcium (CAC). When adjusted for potential confounders, moderate coffee consumption (3 to 4 cups a day) was associated with a lower prevalence of detectable CAC as shown in figure 1. Although CAC is only a surrogate for coronary disease, it does allow detection of very early subclinical disease, making is useful for population based association studies, as reported here. Despite disparate data on the effects of coffee consumption on cardiovascular disease (CV) disease risk in the past, the findings in the current study are congruent with a recent meta-analysis. In addition, this association is biologically plausible based on improved endothelial function, a reduced risk of diabetes, improved insulin sensitivity, and possible prevention of low-density lipoprotein oxidation with chronic coffee consumption. On the other hand, this is a cross-sectional association study so we cannot ascertain whether or not there is a cause-effect relationship between coffee consumption and CAC. Most importantly, this study did not include outcome data and …

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