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High risk of heart attack from diet drinks

11th February 2011

New research has shown that, far from being a healthier option, sugar-free fizzy drinks could undermine heart health.

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Often preferred by people not wishing to put on weight, often for health reasons, sugar-free fizzy drinks are no longer being seen as a wiser option than those containing sugar.

The recent study looked at more than 2,500 people and measured their heart health.

Presented at the American Stroke Association's international stroke conference in Los Angeles, the study found that people who consumed diet drinks every day were 61% more likely to get vascular problems than those who did not have any carbonated drinks at all.

Hannah Gardener, a researcher at the University of Miami where the study took place, said the results had yet to be confirmed in future studies.

However, if they were, then diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular problems, she said.

Researchers interviewed the 2,564 study participants to find out if they drank diet fizzy drinks, regular fizzy drinks, a mixture of the two or none at all.

However, the survey did not collect data about what people were eating, and also did not differentiate between brands of fizzy drink.

This could have provided further information on how fizzy drinks affected health.

Gardener, who is an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, called for further research to explore the link between the risk of vascular problems and diet fizzy drinks in greater detail.

Experts said the study could come as a word of warning to people who thought diet drinks were a healthier option.

According to Sharlin Ahmed from The Stroke Association said the study showed that drinking diet fizzy drinks on a regular basis could pose the same or even higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

However, she added that people should reduce their risk of stroke by keeping to a balanced diet low in saturated fat and salt.

Exercise also played an important role in vascular health, she said.


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