Calcification of the arteries is a well-known precursor for vascular disease. The main danger lies in the possibility of plaque breaking off and barricading blood flow to the vital organs. If this occurs, a person may suffer a heart attack or stroke, but drinking responsibly could abate these risks.
Calcification of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, is an inflammatory condition responsible for a great number of deaths in developed countries.
One potential mechanism underpinning the link between calcium intake and cardiovascular risk could be the progression of atherosclerosis.
The British Heart Foundation, however, challenges the idea that diet has any involvement in the build-up of calcium in the veins.
The health body states: “Our studies in the laboratory have shown that the calcium deposits in arteries form because the muscle cells in the blood vessel wall start to change into bone-like cells when they are old or diseased.
“The calcium deposits in your arteries are not related to your diet or any supplements you may be taking.”
Several studies, however, have drawn a link between beverages and the calcification of the arteries.
Calcification is the technical term describing a build-up of excess calcium in the body and can be caused by different types of deposits. It is also a major clinical marker of atherosclerosis.
In 2016, a large Korean study suggested that the ingestion of just five or more sugar-sweetened carbonated drinks each week was linked to a high risk of calcification, compared to people who did not consume the beverages.
After the discovery was made, coronary artery disease was added to the list of conditions linked with sugar-sweetened beverages.
The relationship between alcohol and calcification of the arteries is U-shaped, meaning moderate drinking may have some benefits, while abstinence and heavy drinking could raise the risk.
Some epidemiological studies have suggested that a moderate intake of red wine, for instance, could decrease cardiac mortality from atherosclerosis.
The most beneficial effects of drinking are most likely attributable to the flavonoids present in red wine, but few other alcoholic beverages boast these benefits.
In 2004, a study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that the consumption of “two alcoholic drinks or fewer per day was inversely linked with extensive coronary calcification”.
The study authors added: “The risk of extensive coronary calcification was 50 percent lower in individuals who consumed one to two alcoholic drinks per day, than in non-drinkers.”
The general consensus is that good hydration offers protection against the development of arterial diseases, but where water comes from may also be important.
An early study published in the journal Circulation: Journal Heart Association, raised questions about the risks of long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water.
According to the study’s findings, it was “directly related” to the onset of atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to the brain.
According to UK authorities, arsenic occurs naturally in the environment, so exposure can occur by consuming contaminated food or water.
In the UK, however, “arsenic levels are under stringent control and exposures to arsenic in water, air and food are reduced to the lowest practical level to minimise possible risks to health,” states the Government’s website.
The main difference in whether tap water is good or bad for the heart boils down to whether it is hard or soft water.
Generally speaking, the harder the water, the lower the coronary rate, partly because softer water contains lower amounts of calcium.