Being about 60% water itself, your body largely relies on water to function properly. Not consuming enough of it can have many effects on your health and well-being, starting with small changes and problems that worsen the longer you remain dehydrated.
Concierge medicine provider Jeffrey H. Graf, MD, is highly familiar with the impact dehydration has on your body, particularly your cardiovascular system. At his office on the Upper East Side of New York City, he routinely evaluates heart symptoms like palpitations that may indicate dehydration, among other issues.
The strain dehydration puts on your heart
When you’re dehydrated, your heart goes into overtime to pump blood through your veins and arteries. This is because being dehydrated decreases the volume of blood circulating through your body.
With less volume and a higher sodium content, blood is thicker and doesn’t flow as freely as it does when you drink plenty of water. To keep the blood moving, your heart rate increases. Your blood pressure drops, too, which can lead to complications like fainting.
Dehydration and heart conditions
Having a heart condition adds an extra layer of possible issues stemming from dehydration. If you already have a diagnosed or undiagnosed heart problem like arrhythmia, changes in your blood volume due to dehydration can trigger these problems or make them worse.
It’s also important to prioritize staying hydrated if you’re on certain heart medications. Many medications for the heart, such as those for managing heart failure, lower your blood pressure. If you’re dehydrated, this means your blood pressure can drop to a dangerously low level.
How much water you should drink
The amount of water necessary to avoid the consequences of dehydration varies based on your weight, age, and other factors. Certain heart conditions and medications may also have an impact on the amount of water you need to drink.
Dr. Graf can offer more insight into avoiding dehydration and the negative effects it can have on your heart. It’s especially important to discuss these topics if you have congestive heart failure or other heart abnormalities because overhydration, or drinking too much water, is also a concern.
Familiarize yourself with signs of dehydration — for example, dark-colored urine or a dry mouth — that are apparent before you notice any changes in heart function. If you’re well-hydrated, the urine you produce should be almost completely colorless.
If you’d like to learn more about how the amount of water you drink impacts the function of your heart, call to schedule an appointment with Jeffrey H. Graf, MD, at your earliest convenience.