A study has recently warned that heat exposure of sauna may influence a person’s health. According to researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, taking a sauna bath of 30 minutes reduces blood pressure and increases vascular compliance and heart rate similar to medium-intensity exercise. The findings revealed that during sauna bathing, the heart rate of participants increased similarly to medium-intensity exercise and their body temperature rose by approximately 2°C.
Previous research has suggested that regular sauna bathing is associated with a reduced risk of coronary diseases and sudden cardiac death, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The study analysed the effects of a 30-minute sauna bath on 100 participants.
In particular, the objective was to analyse the role of vascular compliance and reduced blood pressure in the health benefits caused by sauna bathing. Vascular compliance was measured from the carotid and femoral artery before sauna, immediately after sauna, and after 30 minutes of recovery. Immediately after 30 minutes of sauna bathing, the mean systolic blood pressure of participants reduced from 137 mmHg to 130 mmHg, and their diastolic blood pressure from 82 mmHg to 75 mmHg.
Furthermore, their systolic blood pressure remained lower even after 30 minutes of sauna bathing. The mean carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity of the participants, which is an indicator of vascular compliance, was 9.8 m/s before sauna, decreasing to 8.6 m/s immediately after. The findings shed light on the physiological mechanisms through which health benefits, which are caused by the heat exposure of sauna, may develop. The research is published in the Journal of Human Hypertension.
The research indicates that regular physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle promote cardiac health and prevent disease, but not all of the risk and protective factors are yet known.