A new study published in the European Heart Journal has suggested that staying hydrated throughout your lifetime will lower your risk of heart disease by middle age.
This study used data from over 11,000 Americans who were enrolled in a population-based cohort study called the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. These participants shared follow-up data for 25 years after enrollment in the study. The study authors selected participants who had normal hydration levels and who did not have obesity, diabetes, or heart failure at the start of the study. The researchers then measured how many of the participants developed heart failure during the 25 years after enrollment.
To determine whether hydration impacted the risk of heart failure, the researchers used several measures of hydration, including serum sodium. Serum sodium is a measure of sodium levels in blood, and increased levels of serum sodium indicate underhydration. The researchers used serum sodium as a measure of hydration habits, then looked at whether serum sodium levels were correlated with an increased risk of heart failure during the study.
About 11% of the participants in the study developed heart failure during the 25-year follow-up. The researchers found that serum sodium levels could be used to identify those who had an increased risk of developing heart disease, especially for older adults. The normal range for serum sodium levels is 135-146 mEq/L, and participants who started at 143 mEq/L had a 39% increased risk for developing heart failure compared to participants with lower levels. Furthermore, for every 1 mEq/L increase in serum sodium in the 135-146 mEq/L range, participants had a 5% increase in the risk of developing heart failure. For participants ages 70-90, serum sodium levels starting at 143 mEq/L were correlated with a 54% increased risk for heart failure.
Hydration has many benefits, including better physical and mental performance, fewer headaches, and higher energy levels. This study suggests that consistent hydration may also lower the risk of heart failure.