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How do visits to the sauna affect health?
If you go to the sauna more often, this will have a positive effect on your health. Researchers have now found that regular saunas contribute to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease in humans.
In their current study, scientists from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä found that regular weekly stays in the sauna contribute to a lower probability that those affected die early from cardiovascular diseases. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "BMC Medicine".
How many times a week should I go to the sauna?
A regular sauna visit by men and women from the age of 50 is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, the experts explain. If people visit a sauna four to seven times a week, this reduces the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases to 2.7 cases per 1,000 person-years. If, on the other hand, people only use a sauna once a week, 10.1 deaths occur per 1,000 person-years. So-called person-years refer to the total number of years that the participants took part in the study, the scientists explain. In this way, the number of new events in the study population can be measured in a certain period, with a smaller number of events indicating a lower risk.
Why protect sauna visits?
"An important finding from this research is that a more regular sauna visit is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease in older women and men," said study author Professor Jari Laukkanen from the University of Eastern Finland in a press release. Previous population studies were mainly carried out on men.
There are several possible reasons why using a sauna lowers the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, the expert continues. The research team had shown in previous studies that high sauna use was linked to lower blood pressure. In addition, using the sauna is known to trigger an increase in heart rate, which corresponds to physical exertion with low to medium intensity, adds Professor Laukkanen.
How was the data collected?
It was also found that the incidence of cardiovascular disease mortality decreased during the study period the longer the sauna stay per week. For those who spent more than 45 minutes a week in the sauna, the incidence was 5.1 per 1,000 person-years, while the incidence was 9.6 when people spent less than 15 minutes a week in total. The authors assessed the use of the sauna on the basis of a self-filled questionnaire and verified deaths from cardiovascular causes using documents from hospitals and hospital wards, death certificates and medical reports for 1,688 subjects.
More research is needed
At the start of the study, the participants were on average 63 years old and 51.4 percent were women. The data for this prospective study were collected between 1998 and 2015 and the mean follow-up was 15 years. The authors point out that all patients whose data were analyzed in this study came from the same region. There is therefore a need for further research to check whether the results also apply to population groups in other regions. (as)