A 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that frequency of sauna use was associated with reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular events. The study included 2315 participants, with a follow up period of just over 20 years.
Other studies have shown improvements in cardiovascular function to be associated with sauna use, possibly linked to increases in heart rate at higher temperatures.
Heart rate may increase up to 100/min during moderate sauna bathing sessions4,5,12,13 and up to 150/min during more intense warm sauna bathing,14,15 corresponding to low- and moderate-intensity physical exercise training. These proposed functional improvements associated with sauna bathing correspond to similar benefits seen with regular physical exercise, such as improvement in blood pressure and left ventricular function.Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. (2015). Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 542. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187
The study concerned dry saunas with a mean temperature of 79 degrees Celsius. The authors pointed out that sauna use may be unsafe for certain people, such as those with low blood pressure. They also acknowledged that data regarding sauna use was self reported, and only assessed once, meaning that habits could have changed during the course of the follow-up.
Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events: doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187
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