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Hydration reduces the risk of heart failure

A new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology suggests that drinking a proper amount of water could help maintain heart health and prevent the development of heart failure. The author of the research, Dr. Natalia Dmitrieva of the Heart, Lung and Blood institute explains: “Our study suggests that maintaining good hydration can prevent or at least slow down the changes within the heart that lead to heart failure.”

‘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.”

Standard recommendations for daily fluid intake are 1.6 – 2.1 liters for women and 2 – 3 liters for men. Research suggests that worldwide, many people fall short of the lower end of this recommendation. 

Measuring serum sodium is a scientifically accurate way to determine hydration. The higher the concentration of serum sodium, the more dehydrated a person is. With the rise of serum sodium concentrations, the body reacts by trying to conserve water. Some of the water conservation attempts by the body are known to be detrimental to heart health.

“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.”

The study looked closely at the serum sodium concentration levels in middle age and whether it led to heart failure up to 25 years later. The study also looked at thickening of the left ventricle, which is a predictor for future heart failure. Nearly 16,000 study participants were first assessed between the ages of 44 and 66, and were periodically examined up to the age of 90. 

The upshot is that the higher concentrations of serum sodium in middle age led to higher incidence of heart failure later in life. 

“The results suggest that good hydration throughout life may decrease the risk of developing left ventricular hypertrophy and heart failure,” explained Dr. Dmitrieva.

“In addition, our finding that serum sodium exceeding 142mmol/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 test results but could be used by physicians during regular physical exams to identify people whose usual fluid intake should be assessed.”

The research, which was funded by the Intramural Program of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, was presented at ESC Congress 2021.

By Zach Fitzner, Staff Writer

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