It’s the third cup of coffee that makes the difference, heightening the risk of coronary disease. Large amounts of coffee can seriously damage the heart, according to Cardio 2000, a nationwide study. Speaking at a press conference on September 25 prior to the recent Panhellenic Cardiology Conference on Rhodes (October 2-4), honorary professor Ioannis Lekakis, president of the Greek Cardiology Association, and association members Eleftherios Tsamis and Athanasios Pipilis said the study showed that coffee consumption is related to the risk of coronary disease. While up to two cups of coffee a day may have a limited beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, three cups or more drastically raise the risk of coronary disease. As Lekakis explained, heavy consumption, even of filter coffee, which is considered to be light, harms the internal tissues of blood vessels and makes them harden. Depression an enemy Depression is also an enemy of the heart. According to Attiki, an epidemiology study conducted by Athens University’s cardiology clinic, 25 percent of men and 35 percent of women in Attica suffer from mild to severe depression, which is related, among other things, to factors that congeal the blood, and which partly explains the frequency of heart disease among people with depression. Moreover, said Lekakis, patients who have both depression and coronary disease have a higher risk of serious complications (such as heart attacks) than patients who are not depressed. Air pollution Air pollution – especially exhaust fumes from cars and emissions from apartment block boilers – plays a significant part in increasing mortality rates from heart disease. Specialists note that there is no safe limit for air pollution. Lekakis also commented on the method of calculating the risk that a person with no symptoms runs of suffering a stroke or heart attack according to gender, age, whether they smoke, cholesterol and blood pressure levels and diabetes. Computer program In February 2002 the European Cardiology Association will cooperate with national associations on a special computer program for each country to calculate this risk. In southern Europe, smoking plays a larger role than other factors in the incidence of coronary disease, unlike northern Europe, where cholesterol is the decisive factor.