Diet drinks could increase risk of dangerous heart disease by 20%, study finds

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ATLANTA — Drinking two liters or more per week of artificially sweetened beverages – the equivalent of one medium-sized fast-food diet soda per day – increases the risk of an irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation by 20% compared to people who don’t drink it, a new study finds.

Known as A-fib, atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm often described by many sufferers as a “quivering,” “beating,” or “rocking” of the heart in the chest.

Drinking a similar number of added sugary drinks increased the risk of atrial fibrillation by 10%, while drinking about 4 ounces of straight, unsweetened juices, such as orange or vegetable juice, was associated with an 8% lower risk. of atrial fibrillation, the study found.

“This is the first study to report an association between no- and low-calorie sweeteners, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages, and increased risk of atrial fibrillation,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, professor emeritus of science. Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. in a report. She was not involved in the new study.

Although the study was only able to show an association between sugary drinks and A-fib, the relationship persisted after accounting for any genetic susceptibility to the disease. A 2017 study found that people of European ancestry had about a 22% risk of inheriting the disease.

“We still need more research on these drinks to confirm these results and fully understand the full health consequences on heart disease and other health problems,” said Kris-Etherton, who is also a member of the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association.

“In the meantime, water is the best choice and, based on this study, no- or low-calorie sugary drinks should be limited or avoided,” she added.

Atrial fibrillation is dangerous and on the rise

Atrial fibrillation is the leading cause of stroke in the United States. Additionally, fibrosis A strokes tend to be “more severe than strokes with other underlying causes,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Atrial fibrillation can also lead to blood clots, heart failure and “can increase the risk of heart attack, dementia, kidney disease. All of these things are probably long-term risks,” Dr. Gregory Marcus, professor of medicine at the University. of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and associate chief of cardiology for research at UCSF Health, told CNN.

Nearly 40 million people worldwide live with atrial fibrillation, including 6 million in the United States alone, according to the Heart Rhythm Society, which represents more than 7,000 heart rhythm disorder specialists in more than 90 countries.

Many of these people experience chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue. But for others, A-fib is asymptomatic and can be a potentially silent killer. However, once detected, the condition can be treated with medications, lifestyle changes, and, if necessary, surgical procedures to slow or restore the heart’s normal rhythm.

The rate of atrial fibrillation in the US population is increasing: the CDC estimates that some 12 million Americans will suffer from atrial fibrillation by 2030.

“Age is one of the biggest risk factors, so as the population ages, it’s becoming more and more common,” Marcus said.

The obesity epidemic is also contributing to this increase, along with other risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, smoking and alcohol consumption.

“Previous research has shown that high consumption of soft drinks is associated with an increased risk of (atrial fibrillation),” Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, said in a statement. He was not involved in the new study.

“The risk of (atrial fibrillation) is well known to be associated with type 2 diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption (commonly known as holiday heart) as well as illicit drug use (cocaine),” said Sattar.

Possible “additional health risks”

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, analyzed data from nearly 202,000 people participating in a large biomedical database called UK Biobank. Followed for an average of 10 years, the people analyzed were aged 37 to 73, and more than half were women.

The biggest consumers of artificially sweetened beverages were more likely to be female, younger, weigh more and have a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes, the study found. Those who drank more sugary drinks were more likely to be male, younger, weigh more and have a higher prevalence of heart disease.

People who drank both sugary drinks and pure juice were “more likely to have higher total sugar intake than those who drank artificially sweetened drinks,” according to the release.

“Our study results cannot definitively conclude that one beverage poses more health risks than another due to the complexity of our diets and the fact that some people may drink more than one type of beverage. drink,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Ningjian Wang, a professor at the Institute. Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai, China.

“However, based on these results, we recommend that people reduce or even avoid artificially sweetened and sugary drinks as much as possible,” Wang said in the release. “Do not assume that drinking artificially sweetened beverages low in sugar and calories is healthy; this may pose potential health risks.”

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