HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — According to medical experts the sweetener erythritol is linked to blood clots, stroke, heart attacks, and even death.

Diabetics are twice as likely to experience a heart attack or stroke if they have high levels of the sweetener in their bloodstream, according to a local physician.

If a patient develops blood clots, those clots can travel through the body, and that’s what triggers a stroke or heart attack.

Dr. Ameer Hassan, head of the Neuroscience Department at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen said it might be a good idea to limit this sweetener in your diet for now.

“The recommendations that we have today are if you’re hypertensive, if you’re diabetic, if you’re obese, if you’ve had a stroke before, if you’ve ever had a heart attack before, diet and exercise, it’s that simple,” said Dr. Hassan. “More fruits and vegetables in your diet, less processed food, definitely no processed meats, no fried food, just try to have more fruits and vegetables.”

Health experts said it’s important to note the study’s participants were already at increased risk for cardiovascular issues.

Dr. Hassan said if you have been labeled as having a mini-stroke or experienced any face or arm weakness, you need to see your doctor and get the right medication.

Hassan also said one of the biggest issues in the Rio Grande Valley is patients not taking their medication and not dieting and exercising.

He recommends you get 30 minutes of exercise daily, six days a week.

“I think it’s important that everybody understands, all of us have a stroke risk, but if you understand, the sooner you get treatment, the better your outcome will be. And they [National Stroke Association, American Heart Association] came up with this great acronym FAST. If you have Facial [dooping], Arm weakness, arm or leg weakness, or Slurred speech, it’s Time to call 911,” said Dr. Hassan.

Doctors also recommend you drink more water and stop drinking soda.