Regular tea consumption may help those who have suffered from a heart attack survive longer than those patients who are not tea drinkers, finds a study by American researchers.
The research team at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, noted that while previous research suggested the benefits of tea consumption among individuals with cardiovascular disease, the effects of tea consumption on mortality after heart attacks were unknown.
The researchers looked at results from 1900 patients hospitalised with a confirmed acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) between 1989 and 1994, with a median follow-up of 3.8 years. Trained interviewers assessed self-reported usual weekly caffeinated tea consumption during the year before infarction with a standardised questionnaire.
Long-term mortality according to tea consumption was then compared. Of the 1900 patients, 1019 consumed no tea (non-drinkers), 615 consumed more than14 cups per week (moderate tea drinkers), and 266 consumed 14 or more cups per week (heavy tea drinkers).
Compared with non-drinkers, age- and sex-adjusted mortality was lower among moderate tea drinkers and heavy tea drinkers Additional adjustment for clinical and sociodemographic characteristics did not significantly alter the results. The patients who drank the most tea were the least likely to die for up to four years regardless of other factors such as weight and smoking habits. Heavy tea drinkers were more than 40 per cent less likely to die than patients who did not drink tea.
The scientists point to the flavonoids in tea as the probable link to the positive results. Several previous studies have shown the benefits of flavonoids against heart disease.
Studies also show that flavonoids prevent LDL cholesterol from blocking arteries, the authors noted.