Cardiovascular protective effect of the sauna

A sauna can be used for more than just make us sweat. A study conducted in Finland suggests that men who use it regularly reduce their risk of fatal cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality.

The team of researchers from the University of Kuopio analyzed the association between the sauna and the risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease and fatal cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in a group of 2,315 middle-aged men (between 42 and 60 years) in eastern Finland.

The results show that during almost 21 years there 190 sudden deaths, 281 cases of fatal CHD, fatal heart disease and 929 407 deaths from all causes occurred. Compared with men who said they were taking a sauna weekly, the risk of sudden death was 22% lower in the case of two or three sauna sessions a week and a lower 63% four to seven sauna sessions per week.

The risk of fatal cardiovascular events was 23% lower in those who had two to three weekly saunas and 48% lower in those who did so four to seven times per week compared with those who did it only once weekly. Death from cardiovascular disease was also 27% lower among those taking saunas two to three times a week and 50% lower for those that went into the sauna between four and seven times a week compared to those who only visit the sauna once a week.

As about mortality from all causes, sauna two to three times per week was associated with a risk 24% lower and saunas four to seven times per week were linked with a 40% risk versus giving only one session weekly sauna.

Furthermore, the amount of time spent in the sauna also seems to matter. Compared with men who spent less than 11 minutes in the sauna, the risk of sudden death was 7% lower for sauna sessions of 11-19 minutes, and 52% less for sessions lasting more than 19 minutes. The study is published in Archives of Internal Medicine.