The NHS recommends drinking between six to eight glasses of fluid a day, however, there is substantial evidence to suggest that neither men nor women meet the lower ends of these ranges. This could have life-threatening implications for your heart, notably elevating the risk of failure.
A new study has found that staying hydrated throughout life could reduce the risk of developing heart failure.
One way to measure hydration is through serum sodium; the less fluid someone drinks, the higher the concentration of serum sodium.
Serum sodium above the “normal range “of 135-145 mmol/L is well known to indicate dehydration.
Study author Doctor Natalia Dmitrieva of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said: “It is natural to think that hydration and serum sodium should change day to day depending on how much we drink on each day.
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“However, serum sodium concentration remains within a narrow range over a long period, which is likely related to habitual fluid consumption.”
For their study, researchers conducted analyses of 15,792 adults aged 44 to 66 years old.
The participants were divided into four groups at the outset of the study, based on their average serum sodium concentration.
For each sodium group, the team analysed the proportion of participants who developed heart failure over the following 25 years.
Findings showed that higher serum sodium concentration in midlife was associated with both heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy 25 years later.
In fact, every 1 mmol/l increase in serum sodium concentration in midlife was associated with 1.11 increased odds of developing heart failure 25 years later.
Doctor Dmitrieva added: “Our study suggests that maintaining good hydration can prevent or at least slow down 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 everyday and take action if we find that we drink too little.”
Furthermore, the risk of heart failure began to increase when serum sodium exceeded 142 mmol/l in midlife.
Doctor Dmitrieva added: “The results suggest that good hydration throughout life may decrease the risk of developing left ventricular hypertrophy and heart failure.
“In addition, our findings showed that serum sodium exceeding 142 mmol/l increases the risk of adverse effects in the heart and 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 labelled 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 NHS states: “Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in. If it’s not treated, it can get worse and become a serious problem.”
According to the health body, symptoms of dehydration include:
Dark yellow and strong-smelling pee
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
A dry mouth, lips and eyes
Peeing little, and fewer than four times a day.
“Drink fluid when you feel any dehydration symptoms,” adds the NHS. “If you find it hard to drink because you feel sick or have been sick, start with small sips and then gradually drink more.”