Can Drinking Cold Water When You’re Hot Cause a Heart Attack?
When I was young, I remember my dad telling a story about someone he knew who was working out in the yard on a hot Louisiana summer day. As the story goes, the man went inside and drank a cold glass of water and dropped to the floor. The man died from a heart attack. My dad always said the heart attack was caused by the cold water.
Fast forward about 45 years, every time I come inside after working out in the yard and have a cold drink of water, I think of my dad's story. So I decided to research leading articles and websites to find out if my dad's belief about the guy dying after quickly drinking an entire glass of cold water had any merit. Turns out, it depends on who you ask.
One study claims that cold water was found to affect veins and cause damage to the heart muscle. Cold water, especially after the body is overheated from being outside or strenuous activity may cause the closure of four veins leading to a heart attack. This is called vasoconstriction. But is the study accurate?
Heath guidelines recommend the average adult have 8 glasses of water per day, or about 2 liters total. But what is not presented in those recommendations is the temperature of the water of those 2 liters of water.
The stomach is the core, the central part of the body. It is usually around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. A cold glass of water, especially with ice, is much colder than the temperature of the body, in particular, the core. Remember, whatever you drink goes directly to the core of the body, the stomach.
The stomach takes about five minutes to absorb a glass of water and get the liquid into the bloodstream and that includes getting the temperature down to 98.6 degrees. Can what happens in those five minutes cause a heart attack?
William Gilman Thompson MD, included a chapter in his book, Practical Dietetics With Special Reference to Diet in Disease, that explains the temperature of the stomach.
One may begin a dinner with iced raw oysters, then take hot soup and later conclude the meal with ice cream, followed by hot coffee...and yet throughout, the temperature of the stomach contents does not vary so much as half a degree. -William Gilman Thompson MD
So if Dr. Thompson is correct, if the temperature of the stomach "does not vary so much as half a degree, can a cold liquid cause a person to have a heart attack?
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute claims there is no scientific evidence that drinking a cold glass of water or any cold liquid can cause a heart attack.
Risk factors for heart attack include smoking, obesity, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
So the claim that drinking a glass of cold water quickly can cause a heart attack...doesn't hold water.