Feature | April 17, 2014

Too Many Diet Drinks May Spell Heart Trouble for Older Women

Largest study of its kind looks at diet drinks and cardiovascular outcomes, mortality

ACC 14 Clinical Trial Women Diet Drinks Cardiovascular Problem Mortality

April 17, 2014 — Healthy postmenopausal women who drink two or more diet drinks a day may be more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

In fact, compared to women who never or only rarely consume diet drinks, those who consumed two or more a day were 30 percent more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die from related disease. Researchers analyzed diet drink intake and cardiovascular risk factors from 59,614 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, making this the largest clinical study to look at the relationship between diet drink consumption, cardiac events and death.

“Our findings are in line with and extend data from previous studies showing an association between diet drinks and metabolic syndrome,” said Ankur Vyas, M.D., fellow, cardiovascular diseases, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and the lead investigator of the study. “We were interested in this research because there was a relative lack of data about diet drinks and cardiovascular outcomes and mortality.”

Information on women’s consumption of diet drinks was obtained through a questionnaire that asked them to report their diet drink consumption habits over the previous three months. This information was assessed at follow-up year three of the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Each drink was defined as the equivalent of a 12-ounce beverage and included both diet sodas and diet fruit drinks. For the purposes of the analysis, researchers divided the women into four consumption groups: two or more diet drinks a day, five to seven diet drinks per week, one to four diet drinks per week, and zero to three diet drinks per month.

After an average follow-up of 8.7 years, the primary outcome — a composite of incident coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, coronary revascularization procedure, ischemic stroke, peripheral arterial disease and cardiovascular death — occurred in 8.5 percent of the women consuming two or more diet drinks a day compared to 6.9 percent in the five-to-seven diet drinks per week group; 6.8 percent in the one-to-four drinks per week group; and 7.2 percent in the zero-to-three per month group.

The association persisted even after researchers adjusted the data to account for demographic characteristics and other cardiovascular risk factors and comorbidities, including body mass index, smoking, hormone therapy use, physical activity, energy intake, salt intake, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and sugar-sweetened beverage intake. Women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day were younger, more likely to be smokers and had a higher prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and higher body mass index.

But Vyas said the association between diet drinks and cardiovascular problems raises more questions than answers, and should stimulate further research.

“We only found an association, so we can’t say that diet drinks cause these problems,” Vyas said, adding that there may be other factors about people who drink more diet drinks that could explain the connection.

“It’s too soon to tell people to change their behavior based on this study; however, based on these and other findings we have a responsibility to do more research to see what is going on and further define the relationship, if one truly exists,” he added. “This could have major public health implications.”

About one in five people in the U.S. consume diet drinks on a given day, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2009-2010). But Vyas cautioned that this particular study only applies to postmenopausal women. The average age in the study was 62.8. To be included in this analysis, women had to have no history of cardiovascular disease and be alive 60 or more days from time of data collection.

Previous studies have found artificially sweetened drinks to be associated with weight gain in adults and teens, and seem to increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, which makes both diabetes and heart disease more likely.

Vyas said future research could include clinical studies, animal models and even molecular and pharmacologic analyses to begin to explain what, if any, direct role diet drinks play in heart health.

For more information: www.cardiosource.org

 

Related Content

medical imaging, low-dose radiation, cancer, LNT model study
News | Radiation Dose Management| February 04, 2016
The widespread belief that radiation from X rays, CT scans and other medical imaging can cause cancer is based on an...
caffeine consumption, extra heartbeats, UCSF study, UC San Francisco, Journal of the American Heart Association
News | EP Lab| February 04, 2016
Contrary to current clinical belief, regular caffeine consumption does not lead to extra heartbeats, which, while...
sleep apnea, heart failure readmissions, Thomas Jefferson University study
News | Heart Failure| February 04, 2016
Early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea may reduce six-month readmissions for patients hospitalized with heart...
News | Heart Failure| February 04, 2016
New research from scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) published in the journal...
Abbott, Alere, acquisition, point of care diagnostics
News | Point of Care Testing| February 03, 2016
Abbott and Alere Inc. announced a definitive agreement for Abbott to acquire Alere. Under the terms of the agreement,...
Allegheny General Hospital, MRI, patients with implantable cardiac devices, safety and effectiveness
News | EP Lab| February 01, 2016
The findings of a major study led by cardiovascular imaging specialists at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) suggest...
News | EP Lab| January 29, 2016
Diseased hearts may be thrown out of rhythm by structural differences, now visible for the first time, in protein...
TOBA-BTK study, six-month results, LINC 2016, Tack Endovascular System
News | Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)| January 29, 2016
Intact Vascular Inc. announced that positive six-month results from its Tack Optimized Balloon Angioplasty – Below-the-...
critical limb ischemia, amputations, MRI-based mapping, CLI, British Heart Foundation
News | Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)| January 28, 2016
A new imaging technique could reduce the need for amputation in patients with critical limb ischemia (CLI), according...
Kyoto University, Panasonic, remote heartbeat sensing, millimeter-wave radar

Japanese researchers have come up with a way to measure heartbeats remotely, in real time, and under controlled conditions with as much accuracy as electrocardiographs. The technology utilizes spread-spectrum radar to catch signals from the body and an algorithm that distinguishes heartbeats from other signals.

News | Remote Monitoring| January 26, 2016
Heartbeats can now be measured without placing sensors on the body, thanks to a new technology developed in Japan....
Overlay Init