Chocolate consumption may decrease risk of cardiac mortality in heart attack victims

September 14, 2009

A study published in the Journal of International Medicine shows that chocolate consumption may decrease the risk of a heart attack victim from dying from heart-related problems. In a population-based inception cohort study, the researchers followed 1,169 non-diabetic patients hospitalized with a confirmed first acute myocardial infarction (AMI) between 1992 and 1994 in Stockholm County, Sweden, as part of the Stockholm Heart Epidemiology Program. Participants self-reported usual chocolate consumption over the preceding 12 months with a standardized questionnaire distributed during hospitalization and underwent a health examination three months after discharge. Participants were followed for hospitalizations and mortality with national registries for eight years.

The researchers found that chocolate consumption had a strong inverse association with cardiac mortality. Consuming chocolate less than once per month, up to once per week, and twice or more per week was associated with 27%, 44%, and 66% reductions in cardiac mortality, respectively. Chocolate consumption generally had an inverse but weak association with total mortality and nonfatal outcomes. In contrast, intake of other sweets was not associated with cardiac or total mortality. Chocolate consumption was associated with lower cardiac mortality in a dose dependent manner in patients free of diabetes surviving their first AMI. The researchers concluded that, “Although our findings support increasing evidence that chocolate is a rich source of beneficial bioactive compounds, confirmation of this strong inverse relationship from other observational studies or large-scale, long-term, controlled randomized trials is needed.”