If you don’t drink enough, your blood sodium levels will be too high – causing long-term damage to your heart. What and how much should you drink?
Water, unsweetened tea, or spiked fruit juices without sugar are the best and healthiest thirst quenchers. Ideally, you provide your body with two liters of fluid per day. You can drink more in summer or during strenuous activities that make you sweat. Drinking enough helps to remove harmful substances from the body more quickly and keeps the circulation upright and the skin plump.
If you find it challenging to get to your two liters – especially in winter – when you feel thirsty, you can set yourself “drinking reminders” with the help of an app. Because a significant study by researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health now proves that people who drink too little are significantly more likely to develop heart failure. The study was published in the “European Heart Journal” at the end of March.
Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood adequately through the body because it has become weak or stiff. It is a long-term condition that usually worsens over time.
Drinking supports the heart
“Like reducing salt intake, drinking enough water and staying hydrated is one way to support our heart and reduce the long-term risk of heart disease,” said Dr. Natalia Dmitrieva, lead author of the new study. The U.S. National Institutes of Health researcher led a team that studied nearly 12,000 American adults.
The study participants ranged in age from 45 to 66 and had health data from 25 years. They did not have heart failure, diabetes, or obesity at the start of the study. About 1,366 (11.56 percent) later developed heart failure, which is more common with age. The team looked at blood sodium levels, which rise when fluid levels are low. An average sodium level is between 135 and 146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). However, people with a midlife level of 143 mEq/L were 39 percent more likely to develop heart failure than those with lower levels.
As sodium levels rise, the risk of disease increases.
For every one mEq/L increase in serum sodium from the normal range, the likelihood of a diagnosis increased by five percent. The data also showed that those over 70 with a sodium level of 143 mEq/L were 62 percent more likely to develop left-sided thickening of the heart.
The initial findings suggest that good fluid intake may help prevent or slow the progression of changes in the heart that can lead to heart failure. Fluid is essential for several bodily functions and allows the heart to pump blood efficiently throughout the body. Adequate fluid intake is necessary to support blood vessel function and circulation.
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