“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life,” said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., a study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.
Dehydration Increases the Risk of Heart Failure
The study builds on studies released by scientists in March 2022, which discovered correlations between greater normal serum sodium levels and an increased risk of heart failure. Both findings come from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which included sub studies involving thousands of Black and white adults from around the country. The first ARIC sub-study began in 1987, and it has assisted researchers in better understanding risk factors for heart disease while also establishing therapeutic guidelines for its treatment and prevention.
Researchers analyzed information supplied by study participants during five medical appointments – the first two when they were in their 50s, and the final when they were between the ages of 70 and 90. To ensure a fair assessment of how hydration connected with health outcomes, researchers eliminated persons who had high serum sodium levels at baseline check-ins or who had underlying disorders, such as obesity, that could alter serum sodium levels.
They then looked at how serum sodium levels correlated with biological aging, as measured by 15 health markers. This comprised systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, which supplied information regarding how effectively each person’s cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, renal, and immunological systems were performing. They also controlled for age, race, biological sex, smoking status, and hypertension.
Do Serum Sodium Levels Impact Your Health
They discovered that persons with higher levels of normal serum sodium – a typical range of 135-146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) – were more likely to display indicators of accelerated biological aging. Indicators such as metabolic and cardiovascular health, pulmonary function, and inflammation were used to make this determination. Adults with blood sodium levels above 142 mEq/L, for example, had a 10-15% greater risk of being biologically older than their chronological age compared to values between 137-142 mEq/L, while levels above 144 mEq/L had a 50% increase. Similarly, levels of 144.5-146 mEq/L were linked to a 21% greater risk of premature death when compared to ranges of 137-142 mEq/L.
Adults with blood sodium levels greater than 142 mEq/L had a 64% increased chance of acquiring 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 138-140 mEq/L, on the other hand, had the lowest chance of acquiring the chronic illness.
According to the researchers, the findings do not indicate a causal effect. To evaluate if optimum hydration can promote healthy aging, avoid disease, and contribute to a longer life, randomized, controlled experiments are required. However, the connections can still be used to influence professional practice and personal health behavior.
How to Increase the Water Intake
“People whose serum sodium is 142 mEq/L or higher would benefit from evaluation of their fluid intake,” Dmitrieva said. She stated that most people may safely increase their fluid consumption to achieve suggested levels, which can be accomplished with water as well as other fluids such as juices or vegetables and fruits with high water content. According to the National Academies of Medicine, most women should drink 6-9 cups (1.5-2.2 liters) of fluids each day, while males should drink 8-12 cups (2-3 liters).
Others may require medical advice owing to underlying health issues. “The goal is to ensure patients are taking in enough fluids, while assessing factors, like medications, that may lead to fluid loss,” said Manfred Boehm, M.D., a study author, and director of the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine. “Doctors may also need to defer to a patient’s current treatment plan, such as limiting fluid intake for heart failure.”
The authors also referenced research indicating that over half of people worldwide do not achieve daily total water intake recommendations, which typically begin at 6 cups (1.5 liters).
“On the global level, this can have a big impact,” Dmitrieva said. “Decreased body water content is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, which is why the results suggest that staying well hydrated may slow down the aging process and prevent or delay chronic disease.”
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