Vascular disease or “hardening of the arteries”, also known as atherosclerotic disease, is the number one cause of death in the United States. Contributing risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Diabetes is a major risk factor, equivalent to that of having had a heart attack. There is a direct association with high cholesterol and increased incidence of coronary artery disease. The most significant risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure. Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are associated with a higher rate of vascular disease, stroke and heart attack.  Recent publications have indicated that coffee and tea may reduce the risk of having a stroke, stroke symptoms or other vascular events such as heart attack. The studies also indicate that individuals who consume coffee have a lower prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

As reported in Neurology Reviews, several independent studies have shown that daily consumption of black or green tea reduced the rate of stroke and number of people dying from stroke. These findings were reported at the 2009 International Stroke Conference. A summary of the findings of the numerous studies done show that tea consumption was associated with decreased brain volume injury from stroke with an increase in the number of brain cells that survive in a stroke. Retrospective analysis of the studies published, showed that 195,000 stroke patients were involved and the total number of strokes was 4,300. Dr. Lenore Arab, PhD reported this information and found that the consumption of three cups of tea daily was associated with an average stroke risk reduction of 21%. The exact mechanism of protection by tea in stroke risk reduction has not yet been completely determined. Dr. Arab’s findings were published in Stroke, 2009 February 19.

Coffee consumption has also been reported to reduce the prevalence of stroke. Information regarding coffee consumption and reduced stroke prevalence was also presented at the 2009 International Stroke Conference. This was published in Circulation, a well respected medical journal. It was reported that stroke and other vascular risk factors decreased the amount of daily coffee consumption increased. This finding was consistent even after considering and factoring out other high stroke risk factors such as smoking. Of the 9,384 patients in the study, for whom coffee consumption information was available, it was found that about 3000 had suffered stroke,TIA (transient ischemic attack) or stroke symptoms. The range of coffee consumption ranged from zero to 20 cups daily. Analysis of the data showed that in the individuals studied, those who drank no coffee had the highest prevalence of stroke. Drinking 1-2 cups daily had a stroke prevalence of 5%, 3-5 cups daily 3.5% stroke prevalence and greater than 6 cups daily 2.9% stroke prevalence. Other analysis of the data showed that there was an overall lowered prevalence of high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary artery disease with daily consumption of coffee, particularly in the higher daily coffee consumption group.

In conclusion, it is clear from the available data published in several medical journals, such as Stroke and Circulation, that there is a significant reduction in rate and prevalence of TIA, stroke and stroke symptoms with daily consumption of tea and/or coffee. Higher coffee consumption appears to be associated with a greater reduction in stroke prevalence. This in combination with a healthy diet, exercise of any kind and optimized medical therapy will provide individuals with the greatest protection against having a stroke and stroke prevention.

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