New Study Finds Hydration Levels Affect Cardiovascular Health

Stavros Kavouras, associate professor, Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation
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Stavros Kavouras, associate professor, Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Mild dehydration can impair vascular function nearly as much as smoking a cigarette, according to a new study in the European Journal of Nutrition.

This study indicates that hydration levels – even mild dehydration in healthy, young males – play a role in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Stavros Kavouras, associate professor and coordinator of the Exercise Science Program at the University of Arkansas, led the international team that published the study.

“You could be mildly dehydrated without knowing it while you have endothelial impairment similar to smoking a cigarette,” Kavouras said. “The degree of dehydration when these changes occur is at less than 2 percent dehydration, which is around the threshold when people start feeling thirsty.”

Endothelial function is the dilation and constriction of the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels. It plays a critical role in cardiovascular health. Atherosclerosis is the loss of flexibility in the blood vessels that leads to hardening of the arteries, a known contributor to cardiovascular disease.

This study is the first to find a connection between minor dehydration and negative endothelial function with impaired cardiovascular health in humans.

Kavouras and his team noted that the next step for the research team is to study this effect on patients of both genders with already compromised cardiovascular systems, such as patients of diabetes and/or cardiovascular diseases.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Stavros Kavouras, associate professor, Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation
College of Education and Health Professions

Amy Schlesing, director of science and research communications
University Relations

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