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Two separate studies have found that drinking diet soda may raise odds of vascular events and high salt consumption is associated with risk of ischemic strokes.

Scientists say even if you drink diet soda — instead of the sugar variety — you could still have a much higher risk of vascular events compared to those who don't drink soda.

The finding is based on a large, multi-ethnic Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) involving 2,564 people.

The researchers said people who drank diet soda every day had a 61 per cent higher risk of vascular events than those who reported no soda drinking.

In the soda study, researchers asked subjects at the outset to report how much and what kind of soda they drank.

During an average follow-up of 9.3 years, 559 vascular events occurred (including ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by rupture of a weakened blood vessel).

Researchers accounted for participants' age, sex, race or ethnicity, smoking status, exercise, alcohol consumption and daily caloric intake.

And even after researchers also accounted for patients' metabolic syndrome, peripheral vascular disease and heart disease history, the increased risk persisted at a rate 48 per cent higher.

In a separate research that involved 2,657 participants, the Manhattan scientists found that high salt intake, independent of the hypertension it causes, was linked to a dramatically increased risk of ischemic strokes (when a blood vessel blockage cuts off blood flow to the brain).

In the study, people who consumed more than 4,000 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium had more than double the risk of stroke compared to those consuming less than 1,500 mg per day.

In the sodium research, 187 ischemic strokes were reported during 9.7 years of follow-up. Stroke risk, independent of hypertension, increased 16 per cent for every 500 mg of sodium consumed a day, the scientists calculated.

The study was presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2011.