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Hydrating now may help ward off heart failure later

A smiling woman drinks from a water bottle.

May 30, 2022—Your body needs plenty of water to keep it running right. After all, up to 60% of your body is water, and those fluids must be replaced constantly, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) reports. But that's not the only reason you need to drink fluids every day. A study in the European Heart Journal suggests that staying hydrated also might help keep heart failure at bay.

The researchers looked at data on more than 11,000 adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s. They found that people who were well-hydrated at midlife were less likely to develop heart failure up to 25 years later.

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. It is a chronic condition that affects millions of Americans.

The new study suggests that proper hydration may help prevent or at least slow certain changes in the heart that can lead to heart failure, according to the researchers. Staying hydrated helps the heart pump blood efficiently and supports blood vessel function and circulation, for instance. But more studies are needed to confirm the findings.

How to stay hydrated

The study results may offer another reason to make sure you stay well-hydrated—for heart health, as well as for normal body function and overall well-being. Most of the time that means drinking when you're thirsty, notes the AAFP. But you may need to drink more fluids in certain instances, such as when you are exercising or sick or when temperatures are high.

Follow these tips from experts:

Carry a refillable water bottle you can sip from throughout the day. It's easier to stay hydrated when water is close at hand.

Add a bit of flavor to each glass. If you find water boring, try adding citrus or cucumber slices to improve the flavor.

Pay attention to your urine. Dark urine is often a sign you need to drink more water. Pale urine means you're probably getting enough to drink. You can learn more about how your urine might reflect your health with this infographic.

Choose water over sugary drinks. Sweetened drinks, like sodas, teas and juices, pack a lot of calories but few, if any, nutrients.

Eat your fruits and veggies. Hydration can come from food too. Many types of produce have high water content.

Up your intake when it's hot out. When the temperature rises, so does your risk for heatstroke. Don't wait until you're thirsty. Drink more water throughout the day to replace fluids lost through sweating.

Drink more fluids when you're sick. Being sick can raise the risk of dehydration due to fever, vomiting or diarrhea.

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