“Similar to reducing salt intake, drinking enough water and staying hydrated are ways to support our heart and reduce long-term risk of heart disease,” said Natalia Dmitrieva of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

Previous studies had already indicated a connection between dehydration (dryness) and what is known as cardiac fibrosis, a thickening and hardening of the heart muscles.

The researcher and her team then evaluated data from around 12,000 participants whose health development had been monitored over an average period of around 25 years – including through repeated blood tests.

None of them had diabetes, obesity or heart failure at the start of the study. 1366 of them (11.56 percent) developed heart failure within the observation period.

To determine possible associations with fluid intake, the team assessed the participants’ fluid status using a variety of clinical metrics. The examination of the sodium level in the blood proved to be particularly meaningful. It increases when the body’s fluid content decreases. Values ​​between 135 and 146 mmol/L are considered to be the normal range.

The measured value was within this range for all participants. However, every 1 mmol/L increase in serum sodium increased the risk of heart failure by 5 percent. The risk of heart failure was increased by 39 percent for participants whose level was higher than 143 mmol/L in middle age.

In a subgroup of 5,000 participants between the ages of 70 and 90, the association was even clearer: compared to their peers who had lower sodium levels in middle age, they were 54 percent more likely to have heart failure.

“Serum sodium and fluid intake can be easily assessed during clinical examinations,” explains Dmitrieva. This allowed patients to be identified who would benefit from improved fluid balance in the long term.

The amount of fluid in the blood affects cardiovascular function in a number of ways. These include the efficiency with which the heart pumps blood into the circulatory system, as well as the functioning of the blood vessels and blood pressure.

However, the researchers write that many people consume significantly less liquid than they need. The recommendations are 1.6 to 2.1 liters for women and two to three liters for men a day – depending on the disposition and body weight. If you sweat during sports or because of the heat, you need more fluids accordingly.

According to the German Heart Foundation, around four million people in Germany suffer from cardiac insufficiency. Typical symptoms are exhaustion and shortness of breath.

The disease sets in insidiously and often remains undetected for a long time. The earlier it is detected, the more effectively the progression can be slowed down.

The original of this article “Long-term study shows: Those who drink too little risk heart problems in old age” comes from NetDoktor.