Frequent sauna use reduces CV mortality in women, men
Women and men with higher frequencies and longer durations of sauna bathing demonstrated reductions in fatal CVD events, according to findings published in BMC Medicine.
“We have shown that having frequent sauna baths is strongly associated with a reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular outcomes and all-cause mortality in a general population sample of middle-aged men,” Jari A. Laukkanen, MD, PhD, from the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Eastern Finland, and colleagues wrote. “It is ... unknown whether the additional cardiovascular benefits of frequent sauna bathing are also applicable to women and older individuals.”
Laukkanen and colleagues conducted a study to determine how sauna habits influence CVD mortality in both men and women.
The researchers included 1,688 participants (mean age, 63 years; 51.4% women) living in Finland who completed a questionnaire about their frequency and duration of sauna use. They identified cardiovascular-related deaths using documents from hospitals and health center wards, death certificates and medico legal reports.
Participants were categorized into groups based on total weekly frequency and duration of sauna bathing. There were three frequency groups, including one, two to three and four to seven times per week, and three duration groups, including 15 minutes or less, 16 to 45 minutes and more than 45 minutes per week.
During follow-up (median length, 15 years), 181 fatal CVD events occurred. As sauna sessions per week increased, the risk for CVD mortality declined. The incidence of fatal CVD events was 2.7 per 1,000 person-years for participants who used a sauna four to seven times per week and 10.1 for those who used a sauna once per week.
In age- and sex-adjusted analyses, the HRs for CVD mortality were 0.71 (95% CI, 0.52-0.98) for participants with two to three sauna sessions per week and 0.3 (95% CI, 0.14-0.64) for those four to seven sessions per week, compared with those with one session per week. Adjustment for CVD risk factors and potential confounders, including physical activity, socioeconomic status and incident coronary heart disease, showed that the HRs were 0.75 (95% CI, 0.52-1.08) for participants with two to three sauna sessions per week and 0.23 (95% CI, 0.08-0.65) for those with three and four to seven sessions per week.
Additionally, as minutes of sauna bathing per week increased, CVD mortality decreased. The incidence of CVD mortality was 5.1 per 1,000 person-years for participants who spent more than 45 minutes in a sauna per week and 9.6 for those who spent less than 15 minutes per week in the sauna.
“An important finding of this research is that more regular sauna use is associated with a lower risk of death from CVD in middle-aged to elderly women as well as in men,” Laukkanen said in a press release.
“There are several possible reasons why sauna use may decrease the risk of death due to CVD,” he added. “Our research team has shown in previous studies that high sauna use is associated with lower blood pressure. Additionally, sauna use is known to trigger an increase in heart rate equal to that seen in low to moderate intensity physical exercise.” – by Alaina Tedesco
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.