Artificially sweetened drinks linked to the risk of irregular heartbeat, research shows

According to a new study, consuming two liters of diet soda or other artificially sweetened drinks per day can increase the risk of a dangerous, irregular heartbeat by 20%, compared to people who don’t drink any. study by researchers in China.

The Shanghai study found that people who drink such drinks are more susceptible to a condition known as atrial fibrillation.

Theodore Maglione, an assistant professor of medicine and cardiologist specializing in cardiovascular disease and arrhythmias at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey, told the Guardian: “Atrial fibrillation is a chaotic shaking of the upper chambers of the heart. Normally they beat in an organized manner.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation, or “A-fib,” include “fatigue, shortness of breath and palpitations,” Maglione said.

A-fib can often be genetic, Maglione said, but there are also some modifiable risk factors.

“Some things you have no control over are your genetics and age – which is also a big risk factor. Some of the things you can check include smoking, high blood pressure, uncontrolled sleep apnea, obesity and diet,” he said.

Ensuring blood pressure is optimized is important when it comes to A-fib, as is a “heart-healthy lifestyle,” Maglione said.

“Diet and exercise have been shown to reduce the risk of recurrence of atrial fibrillation after we treat them with certain procedures,” he said.

“The jury is out on whether the low-calorie or low-calorie soft drinks with artificial sweeteners are healthier than the conventional low-calorie soft drinks.”

Maglione said that when it comes to A-fib and diet, avoiding foods high in cholesterol and fat, and getting regular exercise, are crucial.

“Even modest weight loss has been associated with a much lower recurrence rate of atrial fibrillation after treatment,” he said.

A-fib can also lead to blood clots, strokes and other heart-related complications.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say stroke is “a leading cause of severe long-term disability.” And atrial fibrillation is the leading cause of stroke in the United States.

People over age 65 are at greater risk for heart disease such as A-fib and stroke, making it more important for this group to follow a healthy lifestyle and avoid artificially sweetened beverages.

Maglione said there is also some evidence linking atrial fibrillation to early dementia later in life.

The study also looked at drinks with added sugars and pure, unsweetened juices, such as orange juice. It was found that drinks with added sugar increased the risk of A-fib by 10%, while drinking about 4 ounces of pure, unsweetened juices reduced the risk of the condition by 8%.

Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State University, told CNN: “This is the first study to report an association between no- and low-calorie sweeteners as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.”

Soda fanatic or not, Maglione said it’s important to be informed when it comes to medical matters of the heart.

“If you feel symptoms of an irregular heartbeat or palpitations, seek medical attention,” he said. “Because typically with earlier interventions we can be more successful in treating and preventing things like stroke.”