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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 00:12 GMT 01:12 UK
Heart attack victims 'should drink tea'
Tea
Antioxidants in tea may help the heart
Heart attack victims may live longer by drinking plenty of tea, according to doctors.

A study of patients with heart disease has found those who are heavy or even moderate tea drinkers live substantially longer than those who don't have a regular cuppa.

Research by doctors in Israel found heavy drinkers - those who drank more than 14 cups of tea a week - had a 44% lower death rate than non-tea drinkers in the three and a half years following their heart attacks.


Including flavonoids in your diet is just one step in the right direction

Belinda Linden, BHF
Moderate tea drinkers - those who consumed less than 15 cups a week - had a 28% lower rate of dying over the same period, according to the study, published in the journal Circulation.

Dr Kenneth Mukamal and colleague's at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, US, examined 1,900 people, mainly in their 60s, who had suffered a heart attack.

Interviews

The patients were interviewed on average four days after their attack and asked how much tea they consumed.

Some 1,019 were categorised as non-tea drinkers, 615 were moderate drinkers 266 were considered heavy drinkers.

The patients were followed up almost four years later, by which time 313 had died mainly from heart disease.

The researchers found that the less tea the patients drank the more likely they were to have died during the period.

There was little difference between patients in terms of education, income, and their exercise, smoking and drinking habits, which could generally be responsible for variations in mortality rates.

"What was surprising was the magnitude of the association," said Dr Mukamal. "The heaviest tea drinkers had a significantly lower mortality rate than non-tea drinkers."

He added: "The greatest benefits of tea consumption have been found among patients who already have cardiovascular disease."

The researchers believe that antioxidants, known as flavonoids, could be responsible.

Flavonoids are found in both black and green tea and are also in certain fruit and vegetables, including apples, onions and broccoli.

These help to prevent the build up of cholesterol and also have an anti-clotting effect.

Lifestyle changes

Belinda Linden, head of medical information at the British Heart Foundation, said healthier lifestyles were key to avoiding heart disease.

She said: "The BHF recommends lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart disease. Including flavonoids in your diet is just one step in the right direction.

"Giving up smoking, taking more exercise and adopting a healthy lifestyle should be a priority."

See also:

09 Apr 02 | Health
Tea 'could help prevent cancer'
23 Jul 01 | Health
Good news for tea drinkers
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