February 25, 2015

Sauna reduces cardiac mortality

Finns have always sworn by the health benefits of the sauna, and now they have scientific proof to back up their belief.
Finns have always sworn by the health benefits of the sauna, and now they have scientific proof to back up their belief.
VISIT FINLAND / HARRI TARVAINEN

According to a Finnish medical study, frequent sauna use has positive impacts on cardiac health. The risk of sudden cardiac death is up to 60 per cent lower for those who engage in frequent sauna use than for less-active sauna bathers.

The study was led by Jari Laukkanen, M.D., Ph.D., head of the cardiology department, adjunct professor at the University of Eastern Finland. According to the study, the greatest health benefits are achieved by bathing in a sauna with a temperature of around 80 degrees Celsius, 4–7 times a week for about 20 minutes at a time. Less frequent sessions and shorter times were also found to reduce the risk of cardiac death to a certain extent.

Sauna bathing was also found to reduce mortality due to coronary and other cardiovascular diseases.

“We Finns have always been aware of the health benefits of the sauna, but they have never been proven scientifically, on a population level. We see the finding of the sauna having a protective effect as highly significant, because cardiac mortality in Finns is traditionally high and heart disease continues to be the most common disease in the country,” Laukkanen says.

The prospective study, conducted over 20.7 years, is based on a population of 2 315 middle-aged men from Eastern Finland.

The results of the study were published in the international JAMA Internal Medicine publication series on 23 February 2015.

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