Scientists from the University of Eastern Finland, where regular sauna bathing is relatively common, are continuing their research on sauna bathing and the health effects it has on the body, especially the heart. In their new study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, researchers show how having a sauna can reduce the risk of multiple diseases.
Saunas are becoming increasingly popular all over the world, including in the United States. In Finland where the study was completed, a large portion of the population has a sauna nearly every day. In addition to regular physical exercise and an otherwise healthy lifestyle (diet, smoking habits, etc.), having a regular sauna can reduce the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.
In the University of Eastern Finland’s fall 2017 study, researchers looked at the health benefits linked to the heart when study participants spend various amounts of time during the week in the sauna. For participants who had at least four saunas per week, their risk of developing high blood pressure was a whopping 46 percent lower than people with infrequent sauna habits.
Additional findings from past studies from scientists at the University of Eastern Finland came from a population-based study connecting regular sauna bathing and reduced risk of coronary disease, sudden cardiac death, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
In the new study, researchers recruited 100 participants, who each spent 30 minutes in the sauna. This time, researchers compared what happened in the body before and after sauna bathing. They found, unsurprisingly, that the time spent in the sauna resulted in reduced blood pressure, increased vascular compliance, and increased heart rate as if a person had just been exercising.
Vascular compliance is a measure of how a blood vessel is able to expand and contract, a capability important for effectively transporting blood to and from the heart.
Going forward, the study’s research team plans on conducting more studies to further elucidate the physiological connections between sauna bathing and heart health.