Frequent sauna use associated with lower cardiovascular death rate in men and women

November 28, 2018, BioMed Central
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Regular sauna use is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in men and women aged 50 years and over, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland found that mortality from CVD among people who used a sauna four to seven times a week was 2.7 fatal CVD events per 1,000 person years, compared to 10.1 events per 1,000 person years in those who used a sauna once a week. Person years refers to the total number of years that participants remained in the study. It is a way of measuring the number of new events in the study population in a given time period, with a lower number of events indicating a lower risk.

Professor Jari Laukkanen, the corresponding author, said: "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. Previous population studies were done mostly in men only."

Professor Laukkanen continued: "There are several possible reasons why sauna use may decrease the risk of death due to CVD. Our 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."

The incidence (i.e. number of new cases) of CVD mortality over the study period was also found to decrease as the length of time spent in the sauna per week increased. For those who spent over 45 minutes per week in the sauna in total the incidence was 5.1 per 1,000 person years whilst it was 9.6 for those who spent less than 15 minutes per week in the sauna in total.

The authors assessed sauna use by a self-reported questionnaire and checked deaths from cardiovascular causes against documents from hospitals and health centre wards, certificates, as well as medico legal reports for 1,688 participants living in and around Kuopio, Finland. At the start of the study, the participants were on average 63 years old and 51.4% were women. Data for this prospective study were collected between 1998 and 2015 and the mean follow-up time was 15 years.

The authors caution that all the patients whose data were analyzed in this study were from one region and therefore there is a need for further research to understand if the findings apply to other populations. The observational nature of the study does not allow for conclusions about cause and effect.

Explore further: Sauna use associated with reduced risk of cardiac, all-cause mortality

More information: Tanjaniina Laukkanen et al, Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality and improves risk prediction in men and women: a prospective cohort study, BMC Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1186/s12916-018-1198-0

Related Stories

Sauna use associated with reduced risk of cardiac, all-cause mortality

February 23, 2015
A sauna may do more than just make you sweat. A new study suggests men who engaged in frequent sauna use had reduced risks of fatal cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality, according to an article published online by ...

Frequent sauna bathing protects men against dementia

December 16, 2016
Frequent sauna bathing can reduce the risk of dementia, according to a recent study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland. In a 20-year follow-up, men taking a sauna four to seven times a week were 66 percent less ...

Frequent sauna bathing keeps blood pressure in check

September 29, 2017
Frequent sauna bathing reduces the risk of elevated blood pressure, according to an extensive follow-up population-based study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland. The risk of developing elevated blood pressure ...

Infrared sauna is no better for your health than traditional sauna: Busting a common wellness myth

November 20, 2018
If you follow wellness trends, you might've come across the claim that an infrared sauna, which heats the body with light, is better for you than a traditional sauna, which uses radiant heat from a stove.

Frequent sauna bathing has many health benefits, new literature review finds

August 1, 2018
Sauna bathing is an activity used for the purposes of pleasure, wellness, and relaxation. Emerging evidence suggests that beyond its use for pleasure, sauna bathing may be linked to several health benefits. A new report published ...

Frequent sauna bathing reduces risk of stroke

May 2, 2018
Frequent sauna bathing is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, according to a new international study. In a 15-year follow-up study, people taking a sauna four to seven times a week were 61 per cent less likely to suffer ...

Recommended for you

Higher risk of heart attack on Christmas Eve

December 12, 2018
The risk of heart attack peaks at around 10pm on Christmas Eve, particularly for older and sicker people, most likely due to heightened emotional stress, finds a Swedish study in this week's Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Your weight history may predict your heart failure risk

December 12, 2018
In a medical records analysis of information gathered on more than 6,000 people, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers conclude that simply asking older adult patients about their weight history at ages 20 and 40 could provide ...

Age is the biggest risk for heart disease, but lifestyle and meds have impact

December 12, 2018
Of all the risk factors for heart disease, age is the strongest predictor of potential trouble.

New understanding of mysterious 'hereditary swelling'

December 12, 2018
For the first time ever, biomedical researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, report cellular defects that lead to a rare disease, hereditary angioedema (HAE), in which patients experience recurrent episodes of swelling ...

Research team traces pathway to cardioprotection in post-ischemic heart failure

December 11, 2018
During an ischemic attack, the heart is temporarily robbed of its blood supply. The aftermath is devastating: reduced heart contractility, heart cell death, and heart failure. Contributing to these detrimental changes is ...

Macrophage cells key to helping heart repair—and potentially regenerate, new study finds

December 11, 2018
Scientists at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre have identified the type of cell key to helping the heart repair and potentially regenerate following a heart attack.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mrlewish
not rated yet Nov 28, 2018
I really dislike studies like this. There are too many confounding factors. Maybe those that take more sauna baths generally have easier and less stressful jobs, make more money and have the luxury of time to take more of the baths.
Eikka
not rated yet Nov 29, 2018
I really dislike studies like this. There are too many confounding factors. Maybe those that take more sauna baths generally have easier and less stressful jobs, make more money and have the luxury of time to take more of the baths.


People who have the time and money to take a sauna every day are generally richer and more well-to-do. Consider that heating up a sauna for use every day costs you around €1 in electricity each time. For people in the lower social classes, that's a significant expense.

You also need to own a large-ish house to have access to a sauna every day. Poor people living in apartments don't get one, or they get a communal sauna, or a tiny phone-booth sized box that gets used mostly for storage and drying laundry instead (or growing weed, as it has good ventilation, insulation and access for power and water).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.