Hypohydration, defined as a state of low body water, increases thirst sensations, arginine vasopressin release, and elicits renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system activation to replenish intra- and extra-cellular fluid stores. Hypohydration impairs mental and physical performance, but new evidence suggests hypohydration may also have deleterious effects on cardiovascular health. This is alarming because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Observational studies have linked habitual low water intake with increased future risk for adverse cardiovascular events. While it is currently unclear how chronic reductions in water intake may predispose individuals to greater future risk for adverse cardiovascular events, there is evidence that acute hypohydration impairs vascular function and blood pressure (BP) regulation. Specifically, acute hypohydration may reduce endothelial function, increase sympathetic nervous system activity, and worsen orthostatic tolerance. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to present the currently available evidence linking acute hypohydration with altered vascular function and BP regulation.
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