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Drinking water protects against fatal heart attacks

If you're thirsty, a glass of ordinary water is the best thing to drink. The more glasses of water you drink each day, the smaller the risk that you'll have a fatal heart attack or develop cardiovascular disease. And the more liquid you drink each day that is not water, the greater the likelihood of your dying from a heart attack. Epidemiologists at Loma Linda University in California discovered this from an analysis of data on twenty thousand Seventh Day Adventists.

Drinking water protects against fatal heart attacks
Seventh Day Adventists are a Christian denomination that believes in the return of Jesus. Adventists have a very healthy lifestyle: they don't smoke, they don't drink alcohol and try to lead as healthy a life as possible. Because of this epidemiologists are interested in them.

The researchers monitored twelve thousand Adventist women and eight thousand men for a period of six years. At the start of the study all participants were healthy. The subjects completed extensive questionnaires on their lifestyle as a result of which the researchers discovered that the large amounts of water that the Adventists drunk each day protected them against fatal heart attacks.

Drinking water protects against fatal heart attacks

Liquids other than water had a negative effect, however. It made no difference according to the researchers whether these were tea, coffee, soft drinks or juice.

Drinking water protects against fatal heart attacks

The researchers also searched for relationships with other factors such as age, blood pressure, BMI, physical exercise and nuts, meat and whole grains in the diet. No matter what the Adventists' scores were for these other factors whether for example they exercised a lot or not a high intake of water protected them against heart attacks.

The researchers think that drinking water keeps the blood thin. Other types of liquid probably do not do this as well, or have a negative effect. Drinks that contain the stimulant caffeine, such as coffee and tea, probably have a diuretic effect. Soft drinks and juices are full of fast sugars. In studies where subjects were made to drink three glasses of grape juice a day, the concentration of triglycerides in their blood rose as a result by fifty percent, and by thirty percent in the subjects who drank the same amount of orange juice. Triglycerides [or fats in ordinary language] in the blood increase the risk of a heart attack.

The study was part of the Adventist Health Study, an epidemiological project in which the researchers examined the effects of the lifestyle promoted by Seventh Day Adventists. The study was funded by the American government through the National Institutes of Health.

Am J Epidemiol. 2002;155(9):827-33.

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