Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Diet Drinks Linked to Heart Problems and Stroke

A new Manhattan Study (NOMAS) presented at February’s American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, states that people who drank diet soda every day had a 61% higher risk of vascular events than those who reported no soda drinking.

“People who had diet soda every day experienced a 61% higher risk of vascular events than those who reported drinking no soda,” lead investigator Dr. Hannah Gardener (University of Miami, FL) told reporters attending a news conference at the International Stroke Conference 2011 sponsored by the American Stroke Association (ASA).

According to ASA national spokesperson Dr. Larry Goldstein (Duke University Stroke Center, Durham, NC), previous studies have suggested a link between diet-soda consumption and the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. But the current analysis from the Northern Manhattan Study is the first study to show such an association between diet soft drink consumption and hard vascular-disease end points,

“This is an observational study and not a prospective randomized trial,” he pointed out. “This is an association and not yet a proven causal relationship.”

Still, Goldstein said, “I think that it’s always good to do things in moderation. People should look at this information and consider it in the context of their other risk factors.”

More than 2,500 people from the multiethnic cohort study were asked to report how much and what kind of soda they drank. Over an average follow-up of 9.3 years, there were 559 vascular events, including both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes.

The researchers also observed a marginally significant increased risk of vascular events among those who consumed diet soda daily and regular soda once or more a month (adjusted relative risk 1.74; 95% CI 0.96-3.16).

After researchers controlled for metabolic syndrome, peripheral vascular disease, and cardiac disease history, daily consumption of diet soda posed a 1.48 (95% CI 1.03-2.12) relative risk of vascular events compared with no soda intake.

The potential mechanisms for any association between diet soda and vascular events remain unknown, according to the investigators, who acknowledge that additional studies are needed.

What should clinicians advise patients based on the information that is known today? Dr. Steven M. Greenberg (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston), vice chair of the meeting’s program committee, proposes that patients start by concentrating on a healthy diet and regular exercise. “Once the metabolic syndrome is under control [along with] any risk of diabetes, then we can consider cutting back on soda consumption.”

In an interview, Greenberg proposed also that people shouldn’t rush to stop consuming diet soft drinks. “I do think this is a wake-up call, though, and we need to start paying closer attention.”

Randox provide two immunoassay biochip arrays that allow simultaneous determination of analytes associated with Metabolic Syndrome and related disorders for improved patient profiling.

American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, Los Angeles

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