Diet Drinks May Raise Risk Of Dangerous Heart Condition By 20%, Study Finds

by Ella

A recent study has shed light on a concerning link between artificially sweetened beverages and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, a dangerous heart condition. The research, published in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, found that consuming two liters or more per week of diet drinks raised the risk of atrial fibrillation by 20% when compared to those who did not consume such beverages.

Atrial fibrillation, often referred to as A-fib, is characterized by an irregular heartbeat that can manifest as a “quiver,” “flutter,” or “flip-flop” sensation in the chest. The condition is a leading cause of stroke in the United States and is associated with more severe strokes compared to those caused by other underlying factors, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


The study, which analyzed data from nearly 202,000 participants in the UK Biobank database over a period of approximately 10 years, revealed that individuals who consumed similar quantities of sugar-sweetened beverages experienced a 10% increase in the risk of atrial fibrillation. In contrast, those who consumed approximately four ounces of pure, unsweetened juices, such as orange or vegetable juice, had an 8% lower risk of developing the condition.


Dr. Ningjian Wang, lead author of the study and a professor at the Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, emphasized the importance of reducing or avoiding artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened beverages whenever possible. While the study could only establish an association between sweetened drinks and atrial fibrillation, Wang cautioned against assuming that low-sugar and low-calorie artificially sweetened beverages are healthy, as they may pose potential health risks.


The findings of the study underscore the need for further research to fully understand the implications of consuming diet drinks and sugary beverages on heart health. Penny Kris-Etherton, professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University and an American Heart Association nutrition committee member, emphasized the importance of water as the best beverage choice in light of these findings.


Atrial fibrillation affects millions of individuals worldwide, with approximately 6 million cases in the United States alone. As the prevalence of the condition continues to rise, fueled in part by factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and alcohol consumption, it is crucial for individuals to be aware of potential risk factors and make informed choices about their dietary habits.



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