Saunas Take the Heat Off Heart Disease

MEN who regularly use a sauna have a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular (CV) and all-cause mortality than those who attend less frequently.

The research team, led by Dr Jari A. Laukanen, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland, studied the association between long-term sauna use, including the duration and frequency of use, and the risk of sudden cardiac death (CD), fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD), and all-cause mortality among 2,315 men aged 42-60 from Eastern Finland over an average follow-up period of almost 21 years.

Men who engaged in the most sauna bathing sessions each week (4-7) were 63% less likely to experience sudden CD, 48% less likely to experience fatal CHD, 50% less likely to experience CVD death, and 40% less likely to die from all causes, compared with those who had just one sauna session a week. Additionally, the researchers found that the length of the sauna session also influenced results. Indeed, those who spent more than 19 minutes in a sauna were 52% less likely to experience sudden CD than those who spent fewer than 11 minutes in each session.

“This study provides prospective evidence that sauna bathing is a protective factor against the risk of sudden CD, fatal CHD, fatal CVD, and all-cause mortality events in the general male population. Our results suggest that sauna bathing is a recommendable health habit, although further studies are needed to confirm our results in different population settings,” wrote the team.

The results appear to have confirmed previous research that indicates that the high heat of saunas, usually around 80-100 oC, is linked to improved blood circulation, reduced blood pressure, and better heart function. With the significant benefits of sauna use by men now clear, further research is likely to be undertaken to see if such results can be replicated in women, as well as in populations who are not accustomed to sauna use. One thing is for sure – more men are going to be heading to the sauna from now on.

Alex Watt

(Image: freeimages.com)

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