Good news for coffee lovers; new data shows one to six cups of coffee per day is linked to a healthier heart.
While many risk factors for heart failure and stroke are well known, the researchers believe there are still unidentified risk factors.
In findings presented to the American Heart Association yesterday, University of Colorado researchers say they essentially stumbled upon this great news by digging through an important, very-long-running data set on American eating patterns and cardiovascular health. It has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, but it's not the first research to suggest that coffee protects the heart and arteries.
First author Laura Stevens, from the University of Colorado, US, said: "Our findings suggest that machine learning could help us identify additional factors to improve existing risk assessment models". Carsten Görg and David Kao, who both conducted this study, used machine learning alongside traditional data analysis techniques to uncover an inverse relationship between how much coffee we drink per week and how exposed we are to heart failure and stroke. The association between drinking coffee and a decreased risk of heart failure and stroke was consistently noted in all three studies.
Out of all the potential links to heart disease the researchers considered, one stood out after the analysis.
The findings about coffee consumption came about after re-analysing data from the Framingham Heart Study, a long-running U.S. investigation of heart disease risk factors involving thousands of participants.
The research found that every additional cup per week is associated with decreased risk of developing heart failure by 7 percent (and stroke by 8 percent) compared with non-coffee drinkers.
Using a predictive model that factors in blood pressure, age and other health characteristics of participating patients and then adding coffee consumption, the researchers found that the prediction accuracy of the model increased by four percent.
Next time you're wondering whether or not to have that extra cup of coffee, think about the health benefits it could offer you.
The new research also supports the idea that machine learning may help researchers identify other unknown risk factors-or protective factors-for disease.
A press release stressed that this type of study demonstrates an observed association, but does not prove cause and effect.
In June experts at Imperial College London drinking two cups of coffee a day could slash the risk of premature death. "The risk assessment tools we now use for predicting whether someone might develop heart disease, particularly heart failure or stroke, are very good but they are not 100 percent accurate".