Sauna bathing may be the answer to longer life in men
Sauna bathing has been a tradition in Finland for thousands of years and is popular in the United States. Finnish researchers have reported that the regular use of Saunas helps maintain the blood vessels in a healthier condition. The heart rate increases in the Sauna create a demand for more oxygen, which in turn burns calories and provides a mild workout for the heart.
Sauna bathing is a health habit associated with better cardiovascular function, however, the association of sauna bathing with cardiovascular and all-cause mortality is not known
In this new study Dr. Jari A. Laukkanen, MD, PhD, cardiologist, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland and coauthors examined the association of frequency and duration of sauna bathing with the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD), fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD), and all-cause mortality.
The researchers conducted a prospective cohort study (Finnish Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study) in a group of 2,315 middle-aged with an age range of 42 to 60 years, from Eastern Finland. Baseline examinations were conducted from March 1, 1984, through December 31, 1989.
During a median follow-up of 20.7 years there were 190 sudden cardiac deaths, 281 fatal coronary heart diseases, 407 fatal cardiovascular diseases and 929 all-cause mortality events occurred.
Compared with men who reported one sauna bathing session per week, the risk of SCD was 22 percent lower for 2 to 3 sauna bathing sessions per week and 63 percent lower for 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week. The risk of fatal CHD events was 23 percent lower for 2 to 3 bathing sessions per week and 48 percent lower for 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week compared to once a week. CVD death also was 27 percent lower for men who took saunas 2 to 3 times a week and 50 percent lower for men who were in the sauna 4 to 7 times a week compared with men who indulged just once per week. For all-cause mortality, sauna bathing 2 to 3 times per week was associated with a 24 percent lower risk and 4 to 7 times per week with a 40 percent reduction in risk compared to only one sauna session per week.
Compared with men having a sauna bathing session of less than 11 minutes, the risk of sudden cardiac death was seven percent lower for sauna sessions of 11 to 19 minutes and 52 percent less for sessions lasting more than 19 minutes. Similar associations were seen for fatal. Similar associations were seen for fatal coronary heart disease and fatal cardiovascular disease but not for all-cause mortality events.
“Further studies are warranted to establish the potential mechanism that links sauna bathing and cardiovascular health,” the study concludes
Dr. Rita F. Redberg, FACC, MSc, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and editor-in-chief of JAMA Internal Medicine, writes: “Although we do not know why the men who took saunas more frequently had greater longevity (whether it is the time spent in the hot room, the relaxation time, the leisure of a life that allows for more relaxation time or the camaraderie of the sauna), clearly time spent in the sauna is time well spent.”
The North American Sauna Society
Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2015; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187
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