Holistic Nutrition & Prevention

Mild dehydration hard on the heart

By Sari Huhtala

Feeling thirsty? That’s mild dehydration, and scientists say its impact on the circulatory system, even in healthy young men, is nearly the equivalent of smoking a cigarette.

A degree of two per cent dehydration, the point at which one begins to feel thirsty, is all that is required for the dilation and constriction of the inner lining of blood vessels to be impaired, according to a study in the European Journal of Nutrition.  

Drinking plenty of water daily is good heart medicine, and could potentially save one from heart failure and future heart issues, researchers have found.

Good hydration should be included in any healthy heart plan. Water is vital for helping the heart pump blood effectively, for healthy blood vessel function and good circulation, scientists say.

A study in the European Heart Journal found good hydration helps to prevent changes in the heart that can lead to heart problems and heart failure. Researchers recommend women drink a minimum of six to eight cups of water daily, while men drink at least eight to 12 cups of water daily.

Globally, most adults are barely meeting the lower end hydration levels, Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., lead researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says.

Her study focused on daily fluid intake and serum sodium levels, a measure of hydration status, and the risk of heart issues. The less water one drinks daily, the higher the serum sodium concentration one has. As a result, the body tries to use less water by switching on processes that are known to contribute to the thickening of the walls of the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle.

The data analysis for the study involved 15,792 adults, ages 44 to 66, who were evaluated over five visits until age 70 to 90. After adjusting for other lifestyle factors and age, blood pressure, weight, sex, blood glucose and cholesterol levels, researchers found serum sodium was “significantly” linked to heart failure and thickening of the walls of the left ventricular.

Photo credit: © Gustavo Fringe via Canva.com

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