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Tea may keep heart attack victims alive

Regular tea drinking may help keep people who have had heart attacks alive, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard Medical School.

The review of 1,900 men and women in their 60s who had suffered a heart attack found that those who drank the most tea before their attacks — more than 14 cups a week — had a 44 percent lower death rate than non-tea drinkers nearly four years later. Moderate tea drinkers had a 28 percent reduced risk.

“What was surprising was the magnitude of this association, and it held up regardless of age, gender, smoking status, obesity, diabetes or previous heart attack,” said Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard and lead author of the study, published May 7, 2002 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Earlier studies on tea had shown that regular tea drinking appears to lower the risk for heart disease, but the results had been mixed, and none had looked at “the effect of tea consumption on survival after a heart attack,” Mukamal said.

The key to protection seems to be in a group of antioxidants, called flavonoids, which are common in both black and green tea, the researchers said.

— Chronicle News Services (2006)