How does caffeine reduce heart disease risk?

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Scientists are beginning to understand why caffeine protects against heart disease. Roland Beerli/Getty ImagesA recent study uncovered how caffeine reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers found that caffeine lowers blood pro-protein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) levels, which, in turn, lowers “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

High levels of LDL cholesterol contribute to the development of coronary heart disease.

Researchers are developing new caffeine derivatives as potential therapies to treat cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart dis-easeTrusted Source, affects the body’s heart and blood vessels. An estimated 18.2 millionTrusted Source adults aged 20 years and older have coronary artery disease in the United States.

About 361,000 people in the U.S. died in 2019 from coronary heart disease, with 20% of deaths occurring in adults under 65 years.

Coronary heart disease occurs when fatty deposit-sTrusted Source or plaques consisting of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrin — a substance that causes blood clotting — accumulate in blood vessels.

Plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis, in arteries causes narrowing, which may cause a partial or total block-age, leading to heart attack, stroke, or tissue death in the extremities, which people know as gangrene.

Scientists currently believe that high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and high cholesterol may cause damage to the arteries’ inner lining.

Elevated LDL cholesterol levelsTrusted Source contribute to atherosclerosis, while high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” choles-terol, may be protective.

HDL carries LDL away from the arteries, transport-ing it from the blood to the liver, where the LDL cholesterol is broken down and eliminated from the body.

High LDL or low HDL levels alongside elevated triglycerides — the most common type of fat in the body that stores excess energy — increase the risk for heart attack and stroke risk.

Cholesterol regulation

Sterol regulatory element-binding protein 2 (SREBP2) regulates LDL cholesterol levels in the body.

When cholesterol and calcium levels in a cell de-crease, it activates SREBP2. This protein then moves to the cell nucleus and activates genes that influence cholesterol production.

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