Artificially Sweetened Beverages May Increase Risk Of A Serious Heart Condition By 20%: Study

Many people switch to diet sodas or artificially sweetened drinks to avoid excess sugar consumption through sugary beverages. However, just cutting down on sugar is not a guarantee that your beverage will become healthier. According to a study published recently in the journal ‘Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology‘, drinking two litres or more of artificially sweetened beverages per week raised the risk of an irregular heartbeat by 20%, compared to people who drank none. The condition that causes an irregular heartbeat is called atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Apart from the dangerous impact of artificially sweetened beverages on the heart, the study also assessed the link between atrial fibrillation risk and drinking added-sugar beverages or pure, unsweetened juices. Here are the findings:

  • Drinking a similar number of added-sugar beverages (two litres or more per week) raised the risk of atrial fibrillation by 10%.
  • Drinking about four ounces of pure, unsweetened juices, such as orange or vegetable juice, was associated with an 8% lower risk of atrial fibrillation.

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Who Is More Likely To Drink Artificially Sweetened Beverages?

The study analysed data on nearly 202,000 people participating in a large, biomedical database called the UK Biobank. The people were in the ages from 37 to 73 years old. More than half of the participants were female. The participants were followed for an average of 10 years.

The researchers also found that the higher consumers of artificially sweetened beverages were more likely to be female, younger, weigh more and have a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Further, those who consumed more sugar-sweetened beverages were more likely to be male, younger, weigh more and have a higher prevalence of heart disease.

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Understanding Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s upper chambers – called the atria – beat chaotically and irregularly, explains the Mayo Clinic. They beat out of sync with the lower heart chambers. An irregular heart rhythm is called an arrhythmia. AFib can lead to blood clots in the heart as well as increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
Also Read: Diet Sodas Don’t Help You Cut Down On Sugar Or Calories, Says Study

Key Takeaway

Water is the best choice, and, based on this study, no- and low-calorie sweetened beverages should be limited or avoided,” CNN quoted Kris-Etherton, who is an American Heart Association nutrition committee member. “We still need more research on these beverages to confirm these findings and to fully understand all the health consequences on heart disease and other health conditions,” she added.

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