How do sauna sessions affect the risk of stroke?
As people age, people try to protect themselves from serious illnesses and injuries. This includes, for example, trying to keep the risk of a stroke as low as possible. Researchers have now found that frequent visits to the sauna are associated with a reduced risk of stroke.
Scientists from the universities of Eastern Finland, Bristol, Leicester, Emory, Cambridge and Innsbruck found in their current study that regular visits to the sauna effectively reduce the risk of stroke. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Neurology".
How much did sauna visits reduce the risk?
If you want to reduce the risk of stroke, you should visit a sauna regularly. In a study with a 15-year follow-up period, it was observed that people who visited a sauna four to seven times a week had a 61 percent reduced chance of developing a stroke compared to only once in the Week using a sauna. This was the first prospective large-scale study on the subject, the study authors explain.
1,628 subjects took part in the study
Strokes are a major cause of disability worldwide. In addition, they have a high human and economic impact on societies. The results of the current study are based on the population-based Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) study, which involved a total of 1,628 men and women aged 53 to 74 years. The participants lived in the eastern part of Finland.
Subjects were divided into three groups
Based on the frequency of using traditional Finnish sauna baths (relative humidity 10-20 percent), the study participants were divided into three groups. The first group went to a sauna once a week. The second group went to the sauna two to three times a week. The participants in the third group went to the sauna four to seven times a week, the researchers explain.
More frequent sauna sessions reduced the risk more
The doctors were able to determine that the more frequently the test persons visited a sauna, the lower their risk of suffering a stroke. Compared to people who only used a sauna one hour a week, the risk was reduced by 14 percent in two to three sauna sessions, and when people went to the sauna four to seven times a week, the risk was even reduced by 61 percent. The association persisted, taking into account classic stroke risk factors such as age, gender, diabetes, body mass index, blood fat, alcohol consumption, physical activity and socioeconomic status. The strength of the association was similar in men and women, the scientists say.
Results are significant
"The results are very significant and underscore the diverse health benefits of frequent sauna baths," explains study author Dr. Setor Kunutsor of the University of Bristol in a press release.
Sauna sessions also reduce other health risks
Previous results from the KIHD study have shown that frequent visits to the sauna also significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality. According to the researchers, mechanisms that associate sauna visits with reduced stroke could include lowering blood pressure, stimulating the immune system, having a positive effect on the autonomic nervous system and improving cardiovascular function. In a recent experimental study, the same group of scientists showed that sauna visits have an acute impact on the stiffness of the artery wall. This affects blood pressure and cardiac function parameters. (as)