On the search for good health, many people are willing to try just about anything. When it comes to preventative measures for heart health, folks change their diets, exercise and lifestyle. But small changes can make a difference too! One thing you can do today, easily without causing any significant changes: drink more water.
Staying hydrated with water can reduce your risk for heart failure, according to new research. Scientists from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute looked at whether the concentration of salt in the blood — which is a sign of hydration — is linked to future heart failure. They also examined the possibility that being dehydrated caused thickening in the heart’s pumping chamber.
The study used 15,792 people between the ages of 44 and 66 and checked in with them every five years over 25 years. The researchers considered all the other common heart risks like smoking, blood pressure, age, kidney health, cholesterol, blood sugar, BMI and more. They found that even a 1 mmol (millimoles per liter) increase in sodium concentration in the blood was linked to a higher risk of heart failure 25 years later. But, that can be easily remedied: just drink more water.
“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,” said study author Dr. Natalia Dmitriev.
“When you consider that fluid plays a major role in the composition of blood, it would make sense that consuming adequate water can help promote overall heart health including the flow of blood, blood pressure, and functionality of the heart,” said registered dietician Mandy Enright. Being dehydrated leads the body to retain water which can increase the risk of heart failure. “Consuming adequate water helps to dilute sodium levels in the blood. If there is too much sodium in the blood, this can lead to increased risk of elevated blood pressure, heart attack, stroke or heart failure.”
Everyone’s fluid intake needs are different. An excellent general rule is 64 ounces, or roughly eight glasses spread out throughout the day. Some people aren’t fans of water, and we do understand that. Caffeine can lead to dehydration, and you don’t want to drink sugar in the form of juice. But sparkling waters, dairy, low-caffeinated teas and eating water-filled fruits and vegetables are great ways to make sure you stay hydrated. We’ve always been fans of fruit-infused waters: you get an almost juice-like drink without a ton of extra sugar in your day.
If you have problems drinking enough, you can turn it into a game. Ms. Enright puts hash marks on a whiteboard and erases them as the day goes on and she drinks her water. You can also put your glasses on your to-do list and check them off — if you’re anything like us, you love checking off things on a to-do list! And there are phone apps that will send you an alert when it’s time to drink a glass.
It is such an easy step to take to help heart health, and it’s one you can take right now!