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Hydrated Hearts: Importance of Water

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Man drinking water

Water is essential to overall health and wellness, and it greatly impacts the heart. Our bodies are mostly made up of water. More than 70 percent of the heart is composed of water. When healthy people are hydrated, the heart can pump blood through the vessels more efficiently. Less strain is placed on the heart, and it doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recently shared preliminary research that staying well-hydrated may be associated with a reduced risk for developing heart failure. Researchers found that those who drink enough water over a long period of time may reduce the risks of cardiovascular issues in their future.

How Much Water is Enough?

The body loses water each day while breathing, sweating and during urine and bowel movements. It is replenished by drinking beverages and eating food. About 20 percent of water usually comes from food. Drinking water is the simplest and best way to add more to your body and stay hydrated. The amount of water needed can vary greatly based upon age, gender, activity levels, climate and medical conditions. 

Patients with diabetes or heart disease may need to increase their amount of water intake, while those with worsening heart failure may need to limit their fluids. Speak with your doctor to determine the right amount of water for you, especially if you have a heart condition or are over the age of 50. 

Healthy adults who rarely feel thirsty and have pale yellow urine are likely well-hydrated. It is important to modify the amount of water you’re drinking during vigorous physical activity, while enjoying the outdoors on a hot day or if you are feeling ill. Drinking more water and knowing the early signs of dehydration can help avoid strain on your heart. 

Signs of Mild to Moderate Dehydration from The American Heart Association

  • Thirst
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Dry, cool skin
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Not urinating much or darker-colored urine

Tips to Stay Hydrated

Consider these heart-healthy lifestyle habits to increase the amount of water you take in each day. Small changes to add another glass of water to your day may lead to long-lasting impacts for your health.

  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day. Track how much you drink and set reminders with a smart phone app. 
  • Serve water with each meal.
  • Flavor your water with a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber to enhance the taste.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables with a high percentage of water, including melons, strawberries and lettuce.
  • Consider other beverages that include water such as low-fat milk, 100% fruit or vegetable juice or herbal teas. Be cautious of added sugars and high calorie counts.

1https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-andhuman-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#overview

2https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/2022/good-hydration-may-reduce-long-term-risks-heart-failure

3https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/07/11/we-all-need-water-for-a-healthy-life-but-how-much

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