A new study conducted by researchers from the European Society of Cardiology explored the heart health benefits associated with staying properly hydrated. According to their findings, drinking the right amount of water can help protect consumers against heart failure.
“Our study suggests that maintaining good hydration can prevent or at least slow down the changes within the heart that lead to heart failure,” said researcher Dr. Natalia Dmitrieva. “The findings indicate that we need to pay attention to the amount of fluid we consume every day and take action if we find that we drink too little.”
Hydration is key
For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 16,000 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The team compared the participants’ hydration levels with two primary heart health outcomes: heart failure and ventricular hypertrophy, which is the thickening of the left ventricle and an early sign of heart failure.
To track the participants’ hydration habits over the course of nearly 30 years, the researchers regularly measured their serum sodium concentration. Levels of salt in the body are lower when people are more hydrated.
“It is natural to think that hydration and serum sodium should change day to day depending on how much we drink each day,” Dr. Dmitrieva said. “However, serum sodium concentration remains within a narrow range over long periods, which is likely related to habitual fluid consumption.”
Ultimately, the team found that there was a clear relationship between the participants’ hydration habits and their heart health. Participants with the highest serum sodium levels were the most likely to develop both ventricular hypertrophy and heart failure by the end of the study. Increases in serum sodium levels were also associated with higher risks of both heart conditions.
Protecting heart health
Moving forward, the researchers hope these findings highlight the importance of staying hydrated. Hydration habits can affect consumers’ heart health over long periods of time, and drinking more water can help promote better health outcomes into older age.
“The results suggest that good hydration throughout life may decrease the risk of developing left ventricular hypertrophy and heart failure,” Dr. Dmitrieva said.
“In addition, our finding that serum sodium exceeding 142 mmol/l increases the risk of adverse effects in the heart may help to identify people who could benefit from an evaluation of their hydration level. This sodium level is within the normal range and would not be labeled as abnormal in lab tests but could be used by physicians during regular exams to identify people whose usual fluid intake should be assessed.”