Diet soda linked to heart attacks

| 16/02/2011

(CNS): Opting for sugar-free fizzy drinks may seem the solution to staying healthy for those who love the taste of these popular beverages. But new research has shown they could increase the risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. The research, by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was presented during the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011 in Los Angeles. The scientists found that if you drink diet soda – instead of the sugar variety – you could still have a much higher risk of stroke or heart attack compared to those who do not drink soda.

But there was no increased risk for those people who drank regular fizzy drinks compared to none fizzy drinks. In findings involving 2,564 people in New York, the researchers said those who drank diet soda every day had a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events than those who didn’t drink soda.

“If our results are confirmed with future studies, then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular outcomes,” said Hannah Gardener, lead author and epidemiologist in the Department of Neurology at the Miller School.

British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse Amy Thompson said: “This research seems to show a link between diet fizzy drinks and a greater risk of having a heart attack but it is unclear why this occurs. We’d need to see much more research before we could draw any definite conclusions.

“We already know that too many high-sugar fizzy drinks are bad for our teeth and excess calories from them can make us put on weight, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Healthier alternatives people can enjoy are water, un-sweetened fruit juice or low fat milk.”

Dr Sharlin Ahmed, Research Liaison Officer at The Stroke Association says; “It is a well known fact that leading a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke. According to this study drinking diet fizzy drinks on a regular basis could pose the same or even higher risk for cardiovascular disease as standard fizzy drinks, providing a word of warning to those who often opt for diet versions in order to be ‘healthy’.

Drinking fizzy drinks in moderation will not be detrimental to yourhealth. Everyone can reduce their risk of stroke by consuming a balanced diet, low in saturated fat and salt, and exercising regularly.”

In separate research involving 2,657 people, scientists found that high salt intake, independent of the hypertension it causes, was linked to a dramatically increased risk of ischemic strokes, in which a blood vessel blockage cuts off blood flow to the brain. In the study, people who consumed more than 4,000 milligrams per day of sodium had more than double the risk of stroke compared to those consuming less than 1,500 milligrams per day.


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