Sauna study: frequent saunas reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases
A Finnish study examined the health effects of regular sauna visits. In the course of the investigation it became clear that saunas have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. However, it is important to maintain regularity, as the researchers emphasize.
A recent study by scientists from the Medical University of Innsbruck and the University of Eastern Finland has shown that regular visits to the sauna can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The health benefits of sauna bathing have already been proven in earlier scientific studies.
Cardiovascular diseases are among the most common causes of death
Heart attack, stroke, aortic aneurysm and heart failure (cardiac insufficiency) are diseases of the cardiovascular system that are still the most common causes of death.
An Austrian-Finnish research team has now found that people who visit the sauna frequently have a significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
The scientists led by Peter Willeit, neurologist and epidemiologist at the Medical University of Innsbruck and Jari A. Laukkanen from the University of Eastern Finland came to this conclusion using comparative analyzes from data from the Finnish KIHD study.
The long-term study KIHD (Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study) examines, among other things, the sauna behavior of 1,688 men and women (51%) from Finland between the ages of 53 and 74 years.
According to a communication from the Medical University of Innsbruck, the data has been collected and evaluated since the mid-1980s.
The current results were published in the specialist magazine "BMC Medicine".
Earlier studies have shown the health benefits
The Austrian-Finnish team was able to prove in a recent publication that regular saunas significantly reduce the risk of stroke.
Another Finnish study also showed that saunas can stabilize high blood pressure again.
Furthermore, it has long been known that the violent change between extreme heat and cooling strengthens the immune system and has a positive effect on the respiratory tract and metabolism.
Lowest risk when visiting the sauna for more than 45 minutes per week
According to the Medical University of Innsbruck, 181 participants in the recently published cardiovascular disease study died in the observation period of 15 years.
After considering other possible influencing factors, a clear correlation could be determined for the frequency and duration of sauna visits:
According to this, Finns who visited the sauna four to seven times a week had a 70 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease during the observation period.
For those who used the sauna two to three times a week, this risk was still reduced by 29 percent.
“We have now been able to clearly demonstrate this correlation, which was confirmed for men at an earlier point in time, also for women, thus closing a gap in the scientific literature,” explained Willeit.
In their analysis, the scientists also included the duration of the sauna stay as a variable and determined that those who sweat in the sauna for more than 45 minutes a week have the lowest cardiovascular risk.
How the positive effects can be further strengthened
According to the researchers, the beneficial, regulating effects of frequent saunas on blood pressure and heart rate variability are likely to be based on the causality of sauna frequency and cardiovascular mortality.
In any case, Peter Willeit is already aiming to test further hypotheses, such as the extent to which frequent saunas in combination with sporting activities can further enhance the positive effects.
"The strength of this long-term study lies in the fact that our study population is very well characterized thanks to a documented risk profile and detailed information on the behavior of the sauna, which means that further questions can be asked in the future," says study leader Jari Laukkanen.
Some people have to be careful
Despite the positive effects of frequent saunas, certain groups of people should be careful.
For example, rheumatism patients should only take a sauna in inflammation-free phases and epileptics should refrain entirely, as this could trigger seizures.
People with severe varicose veins or other venous vascular diseases should seek medical advice before going to the sauna.
This also applies to patients with existing cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease (CAD), cardiac arrhythmia (fluttering heart, rapid heartbeat) or high blood pressure.
If you have circulatory problems such as dizziness, you should also not take a sauna. (ad)