Study: Proper hydration found to reduce long-term risks for heart failure
04/05/2022 // Zoey Sky // Views

A study conducted by researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that drinking enough water daily can help reduce long-term risks for heart disease.

Heart failure is a chronic condition that develops when the heart is unable to pump enough blood for the body's needs. It affects over 6.2 million Americans or a little over two percent of the population. Heart failure is also more common among adults ages 65 and older.

Data from the study suggests that drinking enough fluids regularly supports essential bodily functions and lowers the risk of severe heart conditions in the future. Findings of the study were published in the European Heart Journal.

Natalia Dmitrieva, the lead study author and a researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH, explained that along with reducing salt intake, drinking enough water and staying hydrated helps boost heart health and "reduces long-term risks for heart disease."

After conducting preclinical research that pointed to links between dehydration and cardiac fibrosis, or the hardening of the heart muscles, the research team started looking for similar links in large-scale population studies. First, they examined data from more than 15,000 adults aged 45 to 66 who took part in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study between 1987 to 1989 and shared information from medical visits over a 25-year period.

When selecting participants for the retrospective review, the researchers focused on individuals whose hydration levels were within a normal range. These volunteers didn't have diabetes, obesity or heart failure at the start of the study.


About 11,814 adults were included in the final analysis. Out of this group, 1,366 or 11.56 percent later developed heart failure.

To assess possible links with hydration, the team analyzed the hydration status of the volunteers using several clinical measures. The researchers examined levels of serum sodium, which increases as the body's fluid levels decrease. This helped identify volunteers with an increased risk for developing heart failure.

Additionally, it helped identify older adults with an increased risk for developing both heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy or the enlargement and thickening of the heart.

Participants with serum sodium levels starting at 143 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L), where the normal range is 135 t0 146 mEq/L, in midlife had a 39 percent associated increased risk for developing heart failure compared to those with lower levels.

For every 1 mEq/L increase in serum sodium within the normal range of 135 to 146 mEq/L, the likelihood of volunteers developing heart failure increased by as much as five percent.

In a cohort of 5,000 adults aged 70 to 90, people with serum sodium levels of 142.5 to 143 mEq/L at middle age were 62 percent more likely to develop left ventricular hypertrophy. Those with serum sodium levels starting at 143 mEq/L have a 102 percent increased risk for left ventricular hypertrophy and a 54 percent increased risk for heart failure.

The findings suggest that serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L in middle-aged volunteers were linked to greater risks of developing left ventricular hypertrophy and heart failure later in life.

The researchers added that conducting a randomized, controlled trial will help confirm these preliminary findings, but these early associations suggest that staying hydrated may help prevent or slow the progression of changes within the heart that can cause heart failure.

Dr. Manfred Boehm, who leads the NIH Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine, said that serum sodium and fluid intake can be assessed in clinical exams and help doctors identify patients who may benefit from tips on how to stay hydrated. (Related: Drink more water: This simple and holistic advice is the best way to optimize urological health.)

Tips to stay hydrated

If you struggle to drink enough water daily, remember that fluids are essential for various bodily functions, such as helping your heart pump blood efficiently, supporting blood vessel function and coordinating circulation.

Fluid guidelines may vary based on your body's needs, but the researchers recommend a daily fluid intake of six to eight cups (1.5-2.1 liters) for women and eight to 12 cups (two to three liters) for men.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers some tips on how to stay hydrated:

  • If you're feeling thirsty, drink water instead of sugary juices or sodas.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.
  • If you prefer drinking cold water, freeze some in freezer-safe water bottles. Bring a bottle with you before you leave the house.
  • When dining out, order water to reduce your calorie intake and save some money.
  • Serve water while eating at home.
  • If you don't like the taste of plain water, add a wedge of lime or lemon to your drink. This helps improve the taste and it can make it easier to drink more water than you usually do. You can also try making a mint and fruit-infused water at home for something more flavorful.

Visit to read more articles about the benefits of staying hydrated.

Watch the video below to know how eating the right kinds of food can also help you stay hydrated.

This video is from the Look After You channel on

More related stories:

You know water’s great for you, but do you know when you’ve had enough?

Myths and truths about hydration, and why many people don’t realize they are dehydrated.

Satiate your hunger AND quench your thirst with these 5 refreshing and hydrating foods.

Preventing travel-related dehydration: 5 Hacks that will boost your water intake.

6 Ways to prevent dehydration in a survival scenario.

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