Drinking too little water on a daily basis triggers changes in your body that raise your risk of heart failure, according to a large long-term study from the European Society of Cardiology – but the solution is as simple as downing an extra glass (or two) of H2O on the regular.
Frequently fall short of the recommended two to three litres per day? While most men do, taking a wide berth from the water fountain puts your ticker at risk. When you don't take in enough water over the long term, the concentration of sodium in your body gets too high, activating physiological processes that lead to 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 study author Dr Natalia Dmitrieva of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “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.”
Scientists examined 15,792 adults aged between 44 and 66 and evaluated the participants in five visits over a 25-year period. They specifically looked at hydration status, measured by serum sodium – when people drink less fluid, the concentration of serum sodium increases – and whether a high concentration predicts the development of heart failure. (continued below)
The researchers also examined the connection between hydration levels and thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber, called left ventricular hypertrophy, a precursor to heart failure. Participants were divided into four groups based on their average serum sodium concentration during the first two visits, and by the final visit, researchers assessed the proportion of people who developed heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy.
The higher a person's serum sodium concentration in midlife, the more likely they were to develop heart failure or left ventricular hypertrophy in their golden years. Predictably, however, downing a week's worth of water in one afternoon won't do much to stave off either condition.
“It is natural to think that hydration and serum sodium should change day to day depending on how much we drink on each day,” said Dr Dmitrieva. “However, serum sodium concentration remains within a narrow range over long periods, which is likely related to habitual fluid consumption.”
While you certainly won't need to sink as much H2O as The Rock – who says he drinks a staggering 18 litres each day – if you're yet to stash a reusable water bottle in your bag so you can sip on the go, now's the time to invest.
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