Report Sauna bathing: a warm heart proves beneficial

tom_mai78101

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Commonly, cardiologists have concerns about exposing heart patients to the heat present in a sauna. In particular, sauna bathing leads to a significant increase in heart rate and reduction in total vascular resistance, thereby decreasing blood pressure. Over the years, it has been shown that sauna baths are well tolerated and pose no risk to healthy people from infancy to old age, including healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancy [1, 2]. In addition, there is a positive effect of sauna on lipid profile both in young, physically active, male subjects, and in young women [3, 4].

For patients with cardiovascular pathologies, it is still considered by many physicians (and thus their patients) that they should avoid sauna bathing. In 2008, mortality in saunas was described in a Swedish study performed between 1993 and 2002; it turned out that in 77 casualties, 34 (44 %) of these deaths were related to alcohol and 18 (23 %) to cardiovascular diseases [5]. In the same year, a Finnish study showed that the annual rate of death occurring while in a sauna was less than 2 per 100,000 inhabitants. Almost half (51 %) of the cases were natural deaths and exposure to heat was the cause of death in 25 %. Overall, 50 % of all cases were under the influence of alcohol.

The main conclusion was that death in the sauna is a rare event, even in Finland where the frequency of sauna bathing is high [6]. Fortunately, more recent studies have shown that cardiovascular patients with essential hypertension, coronary heart disease, or postmyocardial infarction, who are stable and relatively asymptomatic in their everyday life, may take sauna baths without undue risk [710]. It has been documented that Waon therapy (repeated low-temperature sauna visits) improves myocardial ischemia due to chronic total occlusion of a coronary artery in association with improvement of vascular endothelial function [7].

For patients with congestive heart failure, sauna bathing under moderate and supervised conditions appears to be well tolerated and may be safe [8]. Repeated sauna therapy in patients with chronic heart failure improves exercise tolerance together with improvement in endothelial function [9] and reduced occurrence of ventricular arrhythmias [10]. As a rule of thumb, if a person can walk into a sauna, he or she can walk out of it [1].

Read more here. (US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health)
 
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