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Older Adults

April 2019

Drink to Your Heart Health

Exercise often. Maintain a healthy weight. Eat a nutritious diet. Don’t smoke. You’re already aware of the basics that make up a heart-healthy lifestyle. But there’s a lesser-known habit that’s also important for protecting your ticker: getting enough fluids.

Man outdoors, drinking water from a bottle

Staying hydrated makes it easier for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. When your fluid levels dip too low, your heart has to work overtime. Dehydration can put you at risk for serious conditions such as swelling, dizziness, and heat stroke. If you already have a heart condition, you may be at an even higher risk.

Know the signs of hydration

Did you know that as you age, your body becomes more sensitive to the heat? This is from a number of factors such as poor circulation, sweat glands that don’t work as well as they used to, health conditions you have, or medicines that you take.

There’s no magic number for how much liquid you need to stay hydrated. It can vary day to day, depending on the weather and how active you are. To make sure you’re getting enough, check the color of your urine. If it’s pale or clear, you’re in a good zone. If it’s dark yellow, it means you need to increase your fluids. Try drinking fluids throughout the day instead of waiting for signs that you’re dehydrated. In fact, by the time thirst strikes, your liquid levels are already too low.

Surprising ways to increase your fluids

Drinking water is a wonderful way to stay hydrated, but it isn’t the only one. Many other foods and drinks are smart sources of fluids, too. These include:

  • Fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and tomatoes

  • Broth-based soup such as minestrone

  • Fat-free or low-fat milk

When it comes to what you put in your cup, it’s best to steer clear of sugary drinks such as fruit juice and soda because they add unneeded sugar and calories. You may also want to limit the amount of caffeine you have because it can cause you to lose even more liquids by urinating more often.

If you have any questions about hydration and your health, talk with your healthcare provider.

Be an H2O hero

The advice to “drink more water” sounds simple enough. In reality, though, you may find it can be surprisingly challenging to increase the amount you drink. Here are some ways to do just that:

  • Drink a glass of water whenever you need to take a pill.

  • Add a slice of lemon or lime to water.

  • Have a glass of water before exercising or going outside on a hot day.

  • When you feel hungry, have a glass of water first to make sure you’re truly hungry.

  • Drink from a reusable water bottle throughout the day.

 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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