Drinking just two can of sugar-free diet drinks a day increases your chance of heart attack 

Two cans of sugar-free fizzy drinks per day could increase a woman’s risk of a heart attack or stroke by almost a third, according to a study.

The major study of over 80,000 women is one of the first times the risk of specific types of stroke in older women who drink diet drinks has been studied.

Women who drank the fizz regularly are 31 per cent more likely to have a stroke caused by a blood clot, the research found.

And they are 29 per cent more likely to develop heart disease and 16 per cent more likely to die, when compared to women who rarely drank them.

The research did not record which drinks women had, so don’t know which specific artificial sweeteners are so damaging to their health, nor why.

The risks were particularly high for certain women, it found including those who are already obese.

This could be unwelcome news for those who use the diet drinks as a healthier alternative to sugar.

Health officials have admitted it’s a challenge to make recommendations on ingredients which science have yet to find clear understandings of.

Dr Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, lead author of the study by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, said: ‘Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet.

‘Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially sweetened beverages may not be harmless and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.’

The research, published in the journal Stroke, included data from 81,714 women who were aged 50 to 79 at the start of the study between 1993 and 1998.

They were tracked for an average of 12 years.