Hannah Gardener and colleagues from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and at Columbia University Medical Center in New York also found regular soft drink consumption and a more moderate intake of diet soft drinks do not appear to be linked to a higher risk of vascular events.
Gardener and her research team analyzed data from 2,564 participants in the National Institute of Health funded Northern Manhattan Study, which was designed to determine stroke incidence, risk factors and prognosis in a multi-ethnic urban population.
The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found those who drank diet soft drinks daily were 43 percent more likely than those who drank none to have suffered a vascular event, after taking into account pre-existing vascular conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure.
However, light diet soft drink users -- those who drink between one a month and six a week -- and those who chose regular soft drinks were not more likely to suffer vascular events, the study found.
"Our results suggest a potential association between daily diet soft drink consumption and vascular outcomes," Gardener said in a statement. "However, the mechanisms by which soft drinks may affect vascular events are unclear. There is a need for further research before any conclusions can be drawn regarding the potential health consequences of diet soft drink consumption."
The American Beverage Association noted the study did not "show that consuming diet soft drinks can cause adverse health effects. It simply shows a correlation, which is easily explained by other factors in the study -- most notably age. Importantly, medical experts, including the American Dietetic Association, recommend diet soft drinks as a weight management tool, particularly for people at risk for vascular events or stroke."