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 Water & Hydration

June 2010
Water Your Heart
Dr. Girish B. Navasundi
The billion dollar dream of human race is to find water outside of planet Earth, because the heart cannot beat without water.

The human body is 70 percent water – therefore, achieving homeostasis of water and electrolytes is essential for optimal functioning of the body, the cardio vascular system in particular. Staying hydrated is very important this holiday season.

What happens if you don’t drink water?
  • First, the small distal blood vessels (capillaries) in your body close down.
  • This increases the resistance to blood flow - leading to increased blood pressure.
  • Dehydration increases whole body viscosity, plasma viscosity, hematocrit, fibrinogen level, etc.
  • This collectively increases the risk of heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, brain stroke, etc.
How much water to drink?
  • The human body needs about 35 ml of water per kg body weight per day – that’s about 2100 ml for a 60 kg person.
  • Consumption of five or more glasses of water a day significantly reduces the incidence of fatal heart attacks, as compared to consuming less than two glasses of water a day.
Hard & Soft Water
The hardness of water and the amount of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in water have a significant influence on death due to cardiovascular disease. ‘Hardness of water’ refers to the amount of calcium, magnesium and carbonates in the water, while TDS is a measure of all the dissolved minerals in water. As the hardness of water increases, so does its
TDS – and these help reduce death from cardiovascular disease. Frequently, where the water is hard, the TDS is also on the higher side.

Consumption of soft water is associated with 10-15 percent increase in mortality from cardiovascular disease, compared to hard water consumption. Therefore it is recommended to use hard water with TDS of about 175mg /dl.

Avoid Excess Fluid Intake
In patients with heart failure, the heart fails to pump sufficient blood to the kidneys, leading to excess retention of water and sodium. This causes fluid overload and congestive heart failure. Therefore those with a history of heart failure are advised to reduce consumption of fluids to about 1.5 litrs / day. During summer, fluid intake can be slightly increased depending upon the temperature and humidity.

Healthy individuals should drink more than five glasses of plain water per day which is relatively hard and rich in TDS. On the contrary, those who have had heart failure, should avoid excess consumption of fluids and follow the instruction of the treating physician.

  1. Cyanotic congenital heart disease patients (who turn blue due to deoxygenated blood bypassing the lungs and entering the circulation)
  2. People with thrombotic (spontaneous blood clotting) tendencies
  3. Smokers
  4. People on long travel - flights, bus, rail journeys, etc.
  5. Those with fever or loose motion, or those admitted in hospitals
  6. Pregnant women
  7. After tests like coronary angiogram and other diagnostic imaging tests.
Water or Soda?
While plain water thins the blood, soda draws water out of the blood! Consume plain water if you are watching your heart.

Benefits of Adequate Water Consumption
  1. Thins blood
  2. Maintains flow dynamics in the cardiovascular system
  3. Decreases work load on the heart
  4. Reduces risk of spontaneous clot formation within blood vessels
Dr.Girish B.Navasundi is Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore

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