Hydration and Heart Health

Posted by Heart Hugger on Mar 14, 2023 12:36:13 PM

senior man drinking water out of a glass

You likely know just how important hydration can be for overall health--but what about heart health? Here's everything you need to know about the connection between taking care of your thirst and taking care of your body.

The Connection Between Heart Health and Hydration

An adult body is between 55% and 60% water, which is the first sign that hydration plays a crucial role in your health. In fact, water has a long list of jobs, including:

  • Eliminating waste.
  • Managing your body temperature.
  • Protecting your spinal cord.
  • Supporting sensitive tissues.
  • Lubricating and cushioning joints.
  • Transporting nutrients to cells.

While many of these benefits are related to overall well-being, water is also key to heart health. For example, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health, "Maintaining good hydration throughout life may slow down decline in cardiac function and decrease prevalence of [heart failure]."

Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., a researcher at the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), agrees: "Similar to reducing salt intake, drinking enough water and staying hydrated are ways to support our hearts and may help reduce long-term risks for heart disease."

The simple truth is that while hydration isn't the only way to care for your heart, it's an important one--and it can enhance the effectiveness of other smart choices such as exercise and a healthy diet.

Hydration and Heart Health After Heart Surgery

After heart surgery, health and well-being take on whole new meanings. That's especially true when it comes to things that used to seem simple--including hydration.

Here are a few things to know about water and heart health after heart surgery:

What Is Fluid Balance and Why Does It Matter?

After heart surgery, your body may retain more fluid than normal. This interrupts your body's normal fluid balance, leading to added weight, dizziness, and decreased energy levels.

To help improve your fluid balance, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Control salt intake: Avoid added salt and processed foods, stick to 2,000 mg of sodium per day, and more.
  • Exercise: Your doctor will give you specific instructions for safe and comfortable exercises.
  • Take medication: Some medications remove excess fluids. Take these medications exactly as instructed by your doctor.

Do Doctors Ever Restrict Fluid Intake?

Although it's not as common after heart surgery, doctors may restrict your fluid intake before surgery if you're dealing with heart failure. In some cases, you may be required to drink only 6 cups of fluids per day.

Where Can You Get Your Fluids?

Whether you're handling fluid restrictions or just trying to navigate taste and diet changes after surgery, it's important to know where your water should come from.

In most cases, plain water is the best way to get your fluids. However, you can supplement your water intake by snacking on certain foods (as long as your doctor says it's OK). Here are a few examples of water-rich snacks:

  • Soups and broths.
  • Cucumber.
  • Watermelon.
  • Celery.
  • Lettuce.

You may also be able to try sparkling water without caffeine or added sugar, but it's usually best to avoid sports and energy drinks during recovery.

Can You Drink Too Much Water?

It is possible to drink too much water. Although rare, the condition, called "hyponatremia," can occur when you drink so much fluid that your body's sodium levels become too low. Just make sure to talk to your doctor about how much water you actually need, especially after heart surgery.

How Do You Know If You're Dehydrated?

If you're tired or aren't interested in eating and drinking, skipping that glass of water a few too many times is easy. Here are a few signs that you aren't getting enough fluids:

  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Dark urine.
  • Dry skin and mouth.

Because some of these symptoms can be related to heart surgery medications, it's best to contact your doctor even if you suspect the cause is simple dehydration.

There's a strong link between hydration and heart health. Whether you're protecting your heart health for the future or recovering from heart surgery, remember to get your fluids--even if that means starting by working a few water-rich snacks into your diet.

Want to learn more about heart surgery recovery? Contact us today to start your journey and help improve heart health.


Heart Hugger

Written by Heart Hugger

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