“The results show that proper hydration can slow aging and prolong disease-free life,” said Natalia Dmitrieva, study author and researcher at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine. Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.

Dehydration Increases the Risk of Heart Failure

The study builds on research published by scientists in March 2022 that found an association between higher-than-normal serum sodium levels and an increased risk of heart failure. Both findings come from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which included substudies involving thousands of black and white adults from across the country. The first ARIC substudy began in 1987 and helped researchers better understand risk factors for heart disease, while also creating therapeutic guidelines for its treatment and prevention.


The researchers analyzed data provided by study participants during five medical appointments — the first two when they were in their 50s, and the last when they were between the ages of 70 and 90. To fairly assess how hydration was related to health outcomes, the researchers excluded individuals who had high serum sodium levels at baseline or who had underlying conditions that could alter serum sodium levels, such as obesity.

They then looked at how serum sodium levels, as measured by 15 health indicators, correlated with biological aging. It consisted of systolic blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which provide information on how effectively each person’s cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, renal and immunological systems are functioning. They also controlled for age, race, biological sex, smoking status, and hypertension.

Do serum sodium levels affect your health?

They found that people with higher normal serum sodium levels — the typical range of 135 to 146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) — were more likely to show signs of accelerated biological aging. Indicators such as metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function and inflammation were used to make this determination. For example, adults with blood sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had a 10-15% greater risk of being biologically older compared to 137-142 mEq/L, and a 50% increase above 144 mEq/L. Similarly, levels of 144.5–146 mEq/L were associated with a 21% greater risk of early death compared with the range of 137–142 mEq/L.

Adults with blood sodium levels greater than 142 mEq/L had a 64% increased chance of chronic diseases such as heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and peripheral artery disease, as well as chronic lung disease, diabetes, and dementia. Adults with serum sodium levels between 138 and 140 mEq/L had the lowest chance of developing chronic disease.

According to the researchers, the findings do not show cause and effect. Randomized, controlled trials are needed to evaluate whether optimal hydration can promote healthy aging, avoid disease, and prolong life. However, relationships can still be used to influence professional practice and personal health behavior.

How to increase water intake

“People with serum sodium of 142 mEq/L or higher will benefit from assessment of fluid intake,” Dmitriyeva said. He stated that most people can safely increase their fluid intake to reach the recommended levels, which can be achieved with water as well as juices or other fluids such as vegetables and fruits with a high water content. According to the National Academies of Medicine, most women should drink 6 to 9 glasses (1.5 to 2.2 liters) and men 8 to 12 glasses (2 to 3 liters) of fluids each day.

Others may require medical advice for underlying health problems. “The goal is to ensure that patients are getting enough fluid, to assess factors that may cause fluid loss, such as medications,” said Manfred Boehm, MD, study author and director of the Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Laboratory. “Doctors may also need to delay a patient’s current treatment plan, such as limiting fluid intake for heart failure.”

The authors also cited research showing that more than half of people worldwide do not meet the recommended total daily water intake, which typically starts at 6 cups (1.5 liters).

“At the global level, it can have a big impact,” Dmitriyeva said. “Decreased body water is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, so the results suggest that good hydration can slow the aging process and prevent or delay chronic diseases.”

Source: Medium

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