Water Testing Could Reveal More About the Link Between Minerals and Coronary Artery Disease

Recent research shows that water testing may help distinguish what factors in water have a role in slowing or preventing coronary artery disease (CAD).

The most common type of heart disease, CAD killed 382,820 people in the U.S. in 2020, with 2 in 10 deaths occurring in adults younger than 65.

About 20.1 million adults (7.2%) ages 20 and older have CAD in the U.S. And globally, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death.

Researchers in the Netherlands recently published a study in Environment International that explored the associations between drinking water quality for nitrate levels, water hardness, water minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and causes of death.

Safe Water Supply Factors and Self-Reported Health Data

The research team noted that although drinking water in the Netherlands is largely accepted as safe, public concern about the health risks of long-term intake still exists.

The researchers conducted a statistical analysis of postal code areas in that country and looked at four main factors: calcium, magnesium, water hardness, and nitrate. Researchers considered nearly 7 million Dutch residents 30 years and older who had lived at least five years at the same home address.

In their analysis, the scientists included self-reported health data by postal code for age, gender, marital status, education level, country of origin, smoking, and body mass index (BMI). They also assessed age- and sex-adjusted differences in drinking water quality level for different categories of smoking (current smoker, former smoker, and never smoker) and BMI.

In the study pool, close to 133,000 cases of deaths resulted from cardiovascular disease.

How Water Minerals Affect Cardiovascular Health

The team identified that magnesium in water may protect against mortality risk from coronary heart disease. A concentration of calcium and water hardness can increase mortality risk due to cardiovascular disease at drinking water production sites.

Results showed a higher risk for coronary heart disease death when calcium is present at concentrations below 30 milligrams per liter. However, researchers concluded that additional large cohort studies are needed to assess the consequences for public health. Such research would need to identify an exposure relationship between low levels of calcium in drinking water and cardiovascular risk.

How Lab Managers Can Prepare

As researchers continue to establish relationships between water minerals and cardiovascular risks, water testing services remain important. While areas deal with this leading cause of death around the world, you'll need to stay up to date with new developments in water quality. By continuing to read resources on testing news, you can remain vigilant on what risks lurk beneath supposedly clear waters.

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Catherine Arnold

An independent writer telling human stories in science, health, and other areas, Catherine Arnold has written articles for the Washington Post, Science Careers, Bicycling, and NBC Health. Follow herĀ on Twitter or Instagram.