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Sauna and Cardiovascular Diseases

Sauna and Cardiovascular Diseases

Sauna and Cardiovascular Diseases 

By Abigail Mote (co-founder of Burn Saunas)

How spending at least 20 minutes in the Sauna 5-7 times per week cuts cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular related mortality and all cause mortality by nearly 50%.

Heat forces the body to regulate temperature; by increasing heart rate, blood flow and core temperature. Sauna can increase heart beats per minute ranging from 100 to 150 BPM depending on temperature. Studies show sauna results are the same as a brisk 30-50 minute walk (2) for the Cardiovascular system. This provides great reasoning to sauna especially for those who suffer from chronic pain or disability. 


Heart disease single handedly causes one out of every five deaths in the United States. Sudden cardiac death (SCD) often has no warning signs. Research shows that sauna bathing may be able to help lower your risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. One study followed 2,300 sauna bathers for 21 years in traditional Finnish Saunas and found that the participants who visited the sauna more frequently (four to seven times a week) had lower death rates from heart disease and stroke. 


In Fact, Jari A. Laukkanen, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, and coauthors investigated the association between sauna bathing and the risk of sudden cardiac disease (SCD), fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and all-cause mortality in a group of 2,315 middle-aged men (42 to 60 years old) from eastern Finland for 21 years. (1)


Results show, men who reported one sauna bathing session per week, the risk of Sudden cardiac disease was 22 percent lower from 2-3 sauna bathing sessions per week and 63 percent lower for 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week. (1)


The risk of fatal coronary heart disease (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. (1)


Fatal Cardiovascular Disease death 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 bathed just once per week. (1)


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. (1)


The amount of time spent in the sauna seemed to matter too, “compared with men who spent less than 11 minutes in the sauna, the risk of SCD was 7 percent lower for sauna sessions of 11 to 19 minutes and 52 percent less for sessions lasting more than 19 minutes”. Meaning, spending at least 20 minutes in the Sauna 5-7 times per week cuts cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular related mortality and all cause mortality by nearly 50%. These findings really are quite significant encouraging Sauna usage in The United States. (1)


What makes a sauna so beneficial for the heart? Breaking down to a cellular level, Heat shock proteins are a family of proteins increased by Sauna or heat exposure. HSPs have been found to play a critical role in cardiovascular health. HSP encourages vasodilation (blood flow) through promoting nitric oxide production, regulating blood flow and reducing inflammation. Nitric oxide is an essential compound in the human body, it stimulates hormone release and regulates neurotransmission (how your body's cells receive and send messages). Inflammation is seemingly thought to be present within the blood vessels and is a contributor to much more than cardiovascular disease. Inflammation contributes to cardiovascular disease like atherosclerosis through cholesterol build up and other lipids in the arterial walls. Like running faucet water during winter preventing pipes from freezing, heat acts similarly in the human body.(3)

 

Sauna reduces inflammation and stress, two top contributors to cardiovascular disease and key to sauna being an effective remedy. HSPs encourage the promotion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and anti-oxidative enzymes. HSPs can encourage endurance and increase the efficiency of the energy metabolism. Sauna is important to not only athletes, but the aging population as well. Those who may not be able to sweat through exercise and found to be in declining shape. Keeping the heart young and pumping is anti-aging and available through Sauna!



Works Cited


  1. The JAMA Network Journals. "Sauna use associated with reduced risk of cardiac, all-cause mortality." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150223122602.htm>.
  2. O’Kelly, Emma, et al. Sauna: The Power of Deep Heat. Welbeck Balance, 2023.
  3. Pengelly, Adrian. The Science of Sauna. Adrian Pengelly, 2023.