NIH findings may provide early clues to increased risks of advanced biological aging and premature death.
According to a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published on January 2, adults who stay well hydrated seem to be healthier, develop fewer chronic diseases, such as heart and lung disease, and live longer than those who do not. not getting enough fluids. , 2023, in the magazine eBioMedicine.
Using health data collected from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period, the researchers analyzed the links between serum sodium levels – which increase when fluid intake decreases – and various health indicators. They found that adults with serum sodium levels in the upper part of a normal range were more likely to develop chronic diseases and show signs of advanced biological aging than those with serum sodium levels in the middle ranges. Adults with higher levels were also more likely to die at younger ages.
“The results suggest that proper hydration can slow aging and prolong a disease-free life,” said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., study author and researcher at the National Heart Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, Lung, and Blood. Institute (NHLBI), which is part of the NIH.
The study expands on research published by scientists in March 2022, which found links between higher ranges of normal serum sodium levels and increased risks of heart failure. Both findings come from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which includes substudies involving thousands of black and white adults from across the United States. The first ARIC sub-study began in 1987 and helped researchers better understand risk factors for heart disease, while developing clinical guidelines for their treatment and prevention.
For this latest analysis, the researchers assessed information shared by study participants during five medical visits – the first two when they were in their 50s and the last when they were between 70 and 90 years old. To allow a fair comparison between the correlation between hydration and health outcomes, the researchers excluded adults who had high serum sodium levels at baseline checks or with underlying conditions, such as obesity. , which could affect serum sodium levels.
They then assessed the correlation between serum sodium levels and biological aging, which was assessed using 15 health markers. This included factors, such as systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, which gave insight into how each person’s cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, renal, and immune systems are functioning. They also adjusted for factors such as age, race, biological sex, smoking and hypertension.
They found that adults with higher levels of normal serum sodium – with normal ranges between 135 and 146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) – were more likely to show signs of faster biological aging. This was based on indicators such as metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function and inflammation. For example, adults with serum sodium levels greater than 142 mEq/L had an associated 10-15% increased likelihood of being biologically older than their chronological age compared to ranges between 137-142 mEq/L , while levels above 144 mEq/L were correlated with a 50% increase. Similarly, levels of 144.5 to 146 mEq/L were associated with a 21% increased risk of premature death compared to ranges between 137 and 142 mEq/L.
Similarly, adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had an associated 64% increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and arterial disease. devices, as well as chronic lung disease, diabetes and dementia. . Conversely, adults with serum sodium levels between 138 and 140 mEq/L had the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.
The results do not prove a causal effect, the researchers noted. Randomized controlled trials are needed to determine whether optimal hydration can promote healthy aging, prevent disease, and lead to a longer life. However, associations can still inform clinical practice and guide personal health behaviors.
“People with serum sodium of 142 mEq/L or higher would benefit from having their fluid intake assessed,” Dmitrieva said. She noted that most people can safely increase their fluid intake to the recommended levels, which can be done with water as well as other liquids, such as juice, or vegetables and fruits with high water content. The National Academies of Medicine, for example, suggests that most women consume about 6 to 9 cups (1.5 to 2.2 liters) of fluids per day and for men, 8 to 12 cups (2 to 3 liters). .
Others may need medical advice due to underlying health conditions. “The goal is to make sure patients are getting enough fluids, while evaluating factors, such as medications, that may be causing fluid loss,” said study author Manfred Boehm, MD, and Director of the Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Laboratory. “Physicians may also need to defer to a patient’s current treatment plan, such as limiting fluid intake for heart failure.”
The authors also cited research that finds that about half of the world’s people do not meet the recommendations for total daily water intake, which often starts at 6 cups (1.5 liters).
“On a global level, this can have a big impact,” Dmitrieva said. “Decreased body water content is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, so the results suggest that proper hydration can slow the aging process and prevent or delay chronic disease.”
Reference: “High Normal Serum Sodium in Middle Age as a Risk Factor for Accelerated Biological Aging, Chronic Disease, and Premature Mortality” by Natalia I. Dmitrieva, Alessandro Gagarin, Delong Liu, Colin O. Wu, and Manfred Boehm, 2 January 2023, eBioMedicine.
This research was supported by the Division of Intramural Research of the NHLBI. The ARIC study was supported by research contracts from the NHLBI, NIH, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
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