May 13, 2002 -- Still not drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day? Here's one more healthy reason to start. Staying hydrated may protect your heart and reduce the risk of heart attack.
A new study shows people who drank more than five glasses of water each day were less likely to die from a heart attack than those who drank fewer than two glasses a day.
Researchers at Loma Linda University in California studied more than 20,000 healthy men and women aged 38 to 100 for six years. The study appears in the May 1 American Journal of Epidemiology.
They found women who drank more than five glasses of water a day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack during the study period than those who drank less than two glasses. The protective effect of water was even greater in men. Men who drank more water had a 54% lower risk of a fatal heart attack.
But not all liquids were equal. When researchers included the consumption of other liquids such as coffee, tea, juice, milk, and alcohol, the risk of heart attack increased. Women who drank large amounts of liquids other than water were more than twice as likely to die of a heart attack, and non-water drinking men had a 46% increase in risk.
Researchers say when people drink water it is absorbed quickly and easily into the bloodstream and thins the blood -- helping to prevent artery-clogging clots. But other liquids require digestion, which may require fluids to move from the blood into the gut -- creating a blood-thickening effect.