Sauna use decreases risk of hypertension
Regular sauna bathing appears to confer a hypertension risk-lowering benefit, according to a recent prospective study.
Researchers examined a total of 1,621 men aged 42 to 60 years who had no hypertension at baseline to assess the relationship between sauna bathing and risk of incident hypertension. The men completed questionnaires to ascertain frequency of sauna bathing. Hypertension incidence was defined as physician diagnosis of hypertension, systolic blood pressure (SBP) >140 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure >90 mm Hg or use of antihypertensive medication.
A total of 251 incident cases of hypertension were recorded during a median follow-up of 24.7 years. Cox regression analysis found that the frequency of sauna bathing had a protective association with incident hypertension.
Compared with participants reporting one sauna session per week, those reporting two to three weekly sessions (hazard ratio [HR], 0.76; 95 percent CI, 0.57 to 1.02) and four to seven weekly sessions (HR, 0.54; 0.32 to 0.91) were less likely to develop hypertension. These observations persisted even after adjusting for potential confounders including glucose, creatinine, alcohol consumption, heart rate, family history of hypertension, socioeconomic status and cardiorespiratory fitness.
In a previous study, Talebipour et al pointed out that sauna bathing has thermoregulatory and cardiovascular effects, and may benefit patients with systemic arterial hypertension or cardiac failure, as well as prevent diseases associated with endothelial dysfunction. [Rev Bras Med Esporte 2006;doi:10.1590/S1517-86922006000400010]
Characterized by high temperature and dry air, the basic sauna consists of a wood-paneled room, an unpainted wooden platform and a heat source (electric, with a log source or gas). Sauna baths have a size of at least 3 m2 to allow proper heat balance, suitable humidity and adequate ventilation. The suggested temperature is between 80 and 100oC at the face level and 30oC at floor level, with a relative humidity of 10 to 20 percent (40 to 70 g of water vapour/kg air). Sauna bathing involves several stays of 5 to 20 minutes each, alternated with cooling-off periods and followed by fluid intake. [Rev Bras Med Esporte 2006;doi:10.1590/S1517-86922006000400010]