Washington: A sauna may give more than a steam bath, as a new study claims that sauna may be associated with reduced risk of cardiac, all-cause mortality.
Although some studies have found sauna bathing to be associated with better cardiovascular and circulatory function, the association between regular sauna bathing and risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) and fatal cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is not known.
Jari A. Laukkanen, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, and co-authors investigated the association between sauna bathing and the risk of SCD, fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal CVD and all-cause mortality in a group of 2,315 middle-aged men (42 to 60 years old) from eastern Finland.
Results showed that during a median (midpoint) follow-up of nearly 21 years, there were 190 SCDs, 281 fatal CHDs, 407 fatal CVDs and 929 deaths from all causes. Compared with men who reported one sauna bathing session per week, the risk of SCD was 22 per cent lower for 2 to 3 sauna bathing sessions per week and 63 per cent lower for 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week.
The risk of fatal CHD events was 23 per cent lower for 2 to 3 bathing sessions per week and 48 per cent lower for 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week compared to once a week.
CVD death also was 27 per cent lower for men who took saunas 2 to 3 times a week and 50 per cent lower for men who were in the sauna 4 to 7 times a week compared with men who indulged just once per week.
For all-cause mortality, sauna bathing 2 to 3 times per week was associated with a 24 per cent lower risk and 4 to 7 times per week with a 40 per cent reduction in risk compared to only one sauna session per week.
The amount of time spent in the sauna seemed to matter too. Compared with men who spent less than 11 minutes in the sauna, the risk of SCD was 7 per cent lower for sauna sessions of 11 to 19 minutes and 52 per cent less for sessions lasting more than 19 minutes.
Similar associations were seen for fatal CHDs and fatal CVDs but not for all-cause mortality events.
The study concluded that further studies were warranted to establish the potential mechanism that linked sauna bathing and cardiovascular health.
The study is published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.