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ARTICLE CONTRIBUTORS

Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine

Clinical Articles, Lead Article

Frequent sauna use protects men against cardiac death

Frequent – even daily – sauna use can reduce the risk of cardiac death, according to a study at the University of Eastern Finland published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine.1

The authors performed a prospective cohort study (Finnish Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study) of a population-based sample of 2,315 middle-aged (age range, 42–60 years) men from Eastern Finland. Baseline examinations were conducted from March 1, 1984, through December 31, 1989.

Based on their sauna-taking habits, the study participants were divided into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna 2–3 times a week, and those taking a sauna 4–7 times a week.

The 20-year follow-up study discovered that men taking a sauna 4–7 times a week were 63% less likely to experience a sudden cardiac death than those taking a sauna once a week. Furthermore, the occurrence of death due to coronary artery disease and other cardiac events, as well as overall mortality, were less frequent in the group taking saunas several times a week.

Moreover, the time spent taking a sauna was linked to the risk of cardiac death. Those who spent more than 19 minutes in the sauna at a time were 52% less likely to experience a sudden cardiac death than those spending only 11 minutes in the sauna at a time. The risk of death due to a cardiac event was also otherwise smaller in those spending longer times in the sauna.

According to lead author Dr Jari Laukkanen (University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio), the mechanisms of why taking a sauna protects the heart are not yet fully understood, and further research is still required. However, taking a sauna may reduce blood pressure and maintain blood vessel elasticity.

References

1. Laukkanen T, Khan H, Zaccardi F, Laukkanen JA. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Intern Med 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187

Published on: March 27, 2015

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