The date is Tuesday, January 3, 2023.
The findings of the NIH may provide early indications of an elevated risk of advanced biological aging and prematurity.
According to a National Institutes of Health study published in eBioMedicine, well-hydrated adults appear to be healthier, acquire fewer chronic illnesses such as heart and lung disease, and live longer than individuals who may not consume enough fluids.
Using health information collected from 11,255 persons over a 30-year period, researchers evaluated relationships between serum salt levels – which increase as fluid intake decreases – and numerous health indicators. Adults with serum sodium levels at the upper end of the normal range were shown to be more prone to acquire chronic illnesses and exhibit evidence of advanced biological aging than those with serum sodium levels in the middle ranges. Additionally, adults with greater levels were more likely to pass away at an earlier age.
According to Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., a study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the NIH, proper hydration may prevent aging and lengthen a disease-free life.
The study expands on studies released by the scientists in March 2022, which demonstrated associations between larger ranges of normal serum sodium levels and elevated heart failure chances. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which comprises substudies involving tens of thousands of Black and white individuals from the United States, produced both findings. 1987 saw the beginning of the first ARIC sub-study, which has helped researchers better understand heart disease risk factors and shape therapeutic guidelines for its treatment and prevention. For this most recent investigation, researchers analyzed information supplied by study participants during five medical appointments, the first two of which occurred when they were in their 50s and the final between the ages of 70 and 90. To provide a fair evaluation of the correlation between hydration and health outcomes, researchers eliminated persons with high serum sodium levels at baseline or with underlying disorders, such as obesity, that could alter serum sodium levels.
The researchers then examined the correlation between serum sodium levels and biological aging, as measured by 15 health markers. This comprised variables such as systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, which provided insight into the cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, renal, and immunological health of each individual. In addition, they accounted for variables such as age, race, biological sex, smoking status, and hypertension.
They discovered that persons with normal sodium levels between 135 and 146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) were more likely to exhibit symptoms of accelerated biological aging. Based on indicators such as metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function, and inflammation, this conclusion was reached. For instance, persons with blood sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had a 10-15% greater likelihood of being physiologically older than their chronological age, whereas levels above 144 mEq/L were associated with a 50% increase. Similarly, 144.5-146 mEq/L levels were associated with a 21% increased risk of premature death compared to 137-142 mEq/L levels.
Similarly, persons with blood sodium levels above 142 mEq/L were up to 64 percent more likely to acquire chronic disorders such as heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, peripheral artery disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and dementia. In contrast, persons with blood sodium concentrations between 138 and 140 mEq/L had the lowest risk of chronic illness.
Researchers noted that the results do not prove a causal relationship. To determine whether optimal hydration can promote healthy aging, prevent disease, and extend life, randomized, controlled trials are required. Nonetheless, the associations can guide clinical practice and individual health behavior.
“Patients with serum sodium levels of 142 mEq/L or higher would benefit from a fluid intake evaluation,” stated Dmitrieva. She added that the majority of individuals may safely increase their fluid consumption to meet the necessary amounts, which can be done with water as well as other fluids, such as juices or fruits and vegetables with a high water content. According to the National Academies of Medicine, most women consume 6-9 cups (1.5-2.2 liters) of fluids everyday, while men consume 8-12 cups (2-3 liters).
Others may require medical assistance owing to preexisting health issues. Manfred Boehm, M.D., co-author of the study and director of the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine, stated, “The objective is to ensure that patients are consuming enough fluids while analyzing factors, such as drugs, that may cause fluid loss.” “Doctors may have to defer to a patient’s current treatment plan, such as restricting fluid intake for heart failure.”
The authors also cited research indicating that roughly half of the global population does not meet daily water intake recommendations, which typically begin at 6 cups (1.5 liters).
Dmitrieva stated, “This can have a significant global impact.” “Decreased body water content is the most prevalent factor that increases serum sodium, which suggests that remaining well-hydrated may reduce the aging process and avoid or postpone chronic disease.”
This research was supported by the Intramural Research Division of the NHLBI. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services have all provided funding for the ARIC study.
NHLBI: About the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute The NHLBI is the global leader in performing and supporting research that enhances scientific knowledge, improves public health, and saves lives in the areas of heart, lung, and blood illnesses and sleep disorders. For additional details, please visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
NIH stands for the National Institutes of Health. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research organization, consists of 27 Institutes and Centers and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH is the principal government organization that conducts and supports basic, clinical, and translational medical research and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. Visit www.nih.gov for more information on the NIH and its initiatives.
NIH…Transforming Research Into Health®
Dmitrieva NI, Gagarin A, Liu D, et al. Normal blood sodium levels in middle life are a risk factor for rapid biological aging, chronic illnesses, and early death. eBioMedicine. 2023. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2022.104404.