Valentine’s Day isn’t the only heart-related event on the calendar in February. It’s also American Heart Month, an annual awareness campaign for cardiovascular diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure, are the deadliest diseases in the world. In the U.S., heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women, accounting for 375,000 deaths in 2011 alone. Heart disease claims a life in America every 40 seconds. According to the American Heart Association, 80 percent of cases are attributed to preventable factors. Lifestyle changes – like quitting smoking, exercising regularly and eating healthy – can all decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease and they are important for prevention. But here’s one strategy that might surprise you: Hydration. Seriously. Chronic dehydration is not good for your heart. 1. Dehydration Makes the Heart Work Harder Dehydration causes a drop in blood volume and it causes blood – which is primarily water – to thicken. Consequently, as volume drops, so does our blood pressure, which is a reason we get lightheaded and dizzy when we’re dehydrated. To compensate, the body constricts blood vessels and increases the heart rate to maintain blood pressure. Put simply, dehydration forces the heart to pump thicker blood through constricted blood vessels, and heart rate climbs as a result. 2. Proper Hydration May Lower Heart Attack Risk A 2002 study[i] explored the link between hydration and the risk for fatal coronary heart disease (CDH) in adults. The results were significant, with the study showing that drinking 5 or more glasses of water per day was associated with lower rates of CHD. In fact, the study found that staying properly hydrated reduced the risk of CHD by 46 percent in men and 59 percent in women. 3. Dehydration Is a Likely Risk Factor for Stroke Strokes are caused when blood can’t flow freely to the brain, and they are extremely dangerous. In the U.S., stroke is the leading cause of disability in adults and the No. 5 cause of death. A 2009 study showed that the majority of elderly stroke patients admitted to one hospital had high plasma osmolality[ii], which is a sign of low blood volume and dehydration. Plus, another study, conducted by the American Heart Association, concluded that “dehydration appears to be common in hospitalized stroke patients and is associated with severe stroke and poor outcomes.[iii]” DripDrop is a doctor-formulated electrolyte drink that’s designed to help prevent and reverse dehydration.