Hydration and
Your Heart

Reduce your risk of heart attack
with frequent water breaks

A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men who drank five or more glasses of water had only a 46% chance of having a fatal heart attack and women had only 59% risk, compared to people who drank two or less glasses of water daily.

It’s the debate that fires up every summer in the Capital Region, which is worse: heat or humidity? While we argue over “feels like” or “dry heat,” doctors agree on one heart health fact: avoid dehydration and protect your heart with frequent water breaks this summer. Dr. Robert Benton, Director of Clinical Research at Capital Cardiology Associates, noted that hot, humid weather could be difficult for heart patients. “If you’ve been out gardening or raking, especially if you haven’t exercised all winter, that type of stress is very hard on the heart,” said Dr. Benton. Whether you are active, traveling, or just sitting in the sun, there are some simple ways you can prevent dehydration. Dr. Benton recommends that we, “take frequent breaks, wear loose-fitting clothing that allows your body to breathe, and drink plenty of water — usually at least a glass an hour.”

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may also mean you need to drink more water. Some medications can also act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid. Water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated although it’s also possible to get fluids from fruits like berries and watermelon or vegetables like celery and radishes. Iced teas and lemonade (in moderation) are also good refreshments on warm days. Dr. Benton cautions drinking sports drinks with electrolytes, unless there are no other options, as sports drinks tend to have added sugars. It’s also best to avoid sodas or iced coffee that can act as a diuretic and cause you to lose more fluids.

Water is the best way to hydrate

Dr. Benton points out that water is the best thing to drink, not only on hot days but throughout the day. Drinking water has plenty of health benefits, and fluids contribute to every single metabolic process in our body, including absorbing nutrients and removing toxic waste. Our body is made up of about 60% water. Our body fluids bodily are active in digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. Drinking water throughout the day also replenishes our muscles, helps our skin and kidneys, and keeps our bowels function properly. For years there have been studies highlighting the importance of drinking at least 100 ounces of water a day. Drink up, that’s about 13 cups!

Sweating on a hot day is our bodies natural process of trying to cool off. “Changes in temperature cause more blood flow to the skin,” points out Dr. Benton. “This can cause blood pressure to go down, and the heart rate can go up. Add any exertion or physical effort and you can put so much strain on the heart that leads to dehydration which can trigger a heart attack or stroke.” Symptoms of dehydration can range from being extremely thirsty to feeling fatigued. You may also notice you aren’t urinating as frequently or that your urine is dark.

For heart patients or adults over 50 who are overweight, Dr. Benton cautions, “if you feel any symptoms like chest paint, palpitations, dizziness, stop immediately, drink some water and get into the house. If those symptoms persist, call your doctor or if it’s serious, call 9-11.” It’s also important to know your limits. Don’t underestimate the weather conditions because you are using a ridding lawn mower or are doing yard work in the shade. “If you have over-exerted yourself and have gotten to the point of feeling dizzy and needing water, I wouldn’t recommend going back outside for yard work that day,” suggest Dr. Benton. “Even mild symptoms should give you cause to give your cardiologist or primary doctor a call to schedule a quick visit or check-up.

Written by: Michael Arce, Media Specialist

Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.