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Hydrate Your Heart

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Shealy Register
Hydrate Your Heart

You probably know that drinking plenty of water every day is essential to your wellness. Staying hydrated regulates your body temperature and helps your body function properly in many ways. But what you may not know is that your daily water intake can have a big impact on your heart health. 

According to a recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), staying well-hydrated may help reduce your risk of developing heart failure as you age. 

"Drinking plenty o water on a daily basis is a simple way to help care for your heart and prevent problems as you get older," said Christopher Daniels, MD, FACC, FSCAI, interventional cardiologist at Cardiovascular Consultants of South Georgia. "Along with other healthy habits, including eating right and getting enough exercise, staying hydrated can potentially make a big difference in your heart health."

How Water Helps Your Heart

When you drink water, levels of sodium in the blood, called serum sodium, go down. When you don't get enough fluids, you become dehydrated, and your serum sodium level goes up. 

The NIH study suggests people who maintain a high serum sodium level during midlife may be at higher risk for developing heart failure when they get older. People who don't drink enough water may have an increased risk of developing left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), which causes the walls of the heart muscle to thicken and then the heart to enlarge. 

Researchers analyzed data from 15,000 adults, ages 45 to 66, who participated in a study that began with data collection from 1987 to 1989. Participants in the study volunteered to share information from their medical visits for a subsequent 25-year period. For the final analysis, researchers selected 11,814 of the participants who had normal hydration levels, were not obese, and did not have diabetes or heart failure at the time of enrollment. Of these participants, 11.56% later developed heart failure. 

"These results suggest that drinking water may have a significant impact on your heart," Dr. Daniels said. "Staying hydrated may prevent or slow the progression of heart failure. Many people don't drink enough water, so this is an important conclusion to share."

Serving Size for Success

So how much water should you drink every day?

"In general, most healthy people should try to drink about four to six cups of water per day," Dr. Daniels said. "But if you have a health condition or take prescription medications, talk to your doctor about the right amount for you. In some cases, it's actually possible to drink too much water."

In addition, your ideal water intake varies depending on your activity level or the weather. If you spend a lot of time outside on a hot day, you will need more water to stay cool, especially if you sweat. You will also need more fluids when you exercise. 

When you do not drink enough water, you run the risk of becoming dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include:

  • Confusion
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weakness

"Remember that by the time you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated," Dr. Daniels said. "If you have signs of dehydration, rest and drink plenty of water until you feel better."

Hydration Inspiration

Here are a few key tips that can help you stay motivated to drink enough water daily. 

  • Add a wedge of lemon or lime to your water for extra flavor
  • Keep a refillable water bottle with you throughout the day
  • Put freezer-safe water bottles in the freezer and grab one when  you leave the house for ice-cold refreshment

Water can also come from fruits and veggies with high water content, such as apples, cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon. Other beverages can also contribute to water intake. Limit sugary drinks and opt for healthier choices, such as skim milk or carbonated water. 

Questions about your heart health? Find a cardiology specialist at Providers | Archbold Medical Center