MAR 14, 2024 9:00 AM PDT

Sweetened Drinks Linked to Atrial Fibrillation

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A recent study published in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology suggests that drinking large amounts of artificially sweetened or sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heart rhythm.

The prospective cohort study included data from over 200,000 participants who did not have atrial fibrillation when the study began. The study participants had genetic data available and completed a 24-hour diet questionnaire, including the number of sweetened beverages they consumed per day. The follow-up time was about 10 years, during which participants were monitored for health conditions including the development of atrial fibrillation. The goal of the study was to determine how the consumption of sweetened beverages is related to the development of atrial fibrillation.

The results showed that people who consumed two or more liters of artificially sweetened drinks per week had a 20% increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to those who drank no sweetened drinks. Those who consumed two or more liters of sugar-sweetened drinks had a 10% higher risk than those who consumed no sweetened drinks. People who drank one liter or less of pure fruit juice per week had an 8% lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

The authors of the study stated that these results suggest that reducing intake of sweetened beverages, both artificial and sugar-sweetened, may improve heart health. The mechanism behind the link between sweetened beverages and atrial fibrillation is unknown, but there are several possibilities. The body’s response to artificial sweeteners and the development of insulin resistance may play a role. Relatively few studies have been conducted on the long-term use of artificial sweeteners, and their health effects remain largely unknown. For optimal heart health and overall health, the best and safest choice is water until further research is conducted.

Sources: Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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