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Sugary Drinks and Coronary Heart Disease

Sugary Drinks and Coronary Heart Disease

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is known to cause weight gain and heightens the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. A study recently published in Circulation1 suggests that even a single can of soda or other sugary drink a day is associated with a statistically significant increase in the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and levels of inflammatory biomarkers.

What does this study tell us? Should you simply warn your patients with heart disease to banish all sugary soft drinks?

Here to put this issue into perspective are Drs Christopher Cannon and Payal Kohli. Dr Cannon, a senior investigator with the TIMI Study Group, is editor-in-chief of Cardiosource Science and Quality. He is also Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Associate Physician in the Cardiovascular Division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Dr Kohli graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed her internal medicine training in Boston and is scheduled to start her fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at the University of California San Francisco in June 2012.

Sugary Drinks and Coronary Heart Disease

Sugary Drinks and Coronary Heart Disease

Take-home Points 

• One sugary drink a day raises CHD risk by 20%.

• Dysregulation of glucose homeostasis is pathogenic in atherosclerosis and may be a mechanism by which sugar-sweetened drinks increase risk for CHD.

• Regular intake of sugar-sweetened drinks—a single serving a day—is associated with a 20% increased risk of CHD, even after adjusting for a wide range of cardiovascular risk factors (eg, age, smoking, family history, BMI).

• Drinking one sugary beverage a day is associated with increased levels of triglycerides and inflammatory biomarkers—CRP, TNF-R1, IL-6—and decreased levels of HDL-C, lipoprotein, and leptin.

• The study results are a potent reminder that common dietary patterns can trigger significant cardiovascular pathology, even in patients without typical risk factors.

• All patients require education and guidance on moderation of sugar intake.


1. de Koning L, Malik VS, Kellogg MD, et al. Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease and biomarkers of risk in men. Circulation. 2012. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.067017. Available at:

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