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Study: Dehydration connected with heart disease

Maintaining good hydration throughout life may slow down decline in cardiac function.

Picking up a glass of water. Image by Tim Sandle.
Picking up a glass of water. Image by Tim Sandle.

A new study finds that staying hydrated throughout your lifetime reduces the risk of heart disease. This by the time a person reaches middle age.

This finding is based on a review of some 11,000 U.S. citizens enrolled in a population-based cohort study (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study). This is a s a multi-site, prospective, biracial cohort study run by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The programme is designed to investigate the aetiology and clinical outcomes of atherosclerosis.

These participants were assessed over a 25 year period. The data was sorted based on self-reported and tested for hydration levels and on weight, presence or absence of diabetes, and reported heart failure. The participants were assessed as to whether they developed heart failure during the 25 years after enrolment.

Dehydration is a concern among aging populations and can result in hospitalization and other adverse outcomes. To assess the impact of hydration in relation to the risk of heart failure, the scientists used different measures of hydration, including serum sodium. This is a measure of sodium levels in blood, and increased levels of serum sodium indicate underhydration, as Laboratory Roots reports. Measurement of serum sodium is routine in assessing electrolyte, acid-base, and water balance, as well as renal function.

Levels of serum sodium were used as a measure of hydration habits. It was found that 11 percent of the participants in the study developed heart failure during the 25-year follow-up. The analysis of the results demonstrated that serum sodium levels could be used to identify those who had an increased risk of developing heart disease, especially for older adults.

Here, the normal range for serum sodium levels is 135-146 mEq/L. Those who began the study at 143 mEq/L had a 39 percent increased risk for developing heart failure compared to participants with lower levels. In healthy people, hypohydration is reflected in increased serum sodium concentration and tonicity.

It was also shown that for every 1 mEq/L increase in serum sodium in the 135-146 mEq/L range, participants had a 5 percent 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 percent increased risk for heart failure.

Therefore, the data indicates that consistent hydration may also lower the risk of heart failure.

The research appears in European Heart Journal, titled “Middle age serum sodium levels in the upper part of normal range and risk of heart failure.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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