Sauna: 45 minutes per week reduces the risk of heart attack

Regular sauna use is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease in men and women aged 50 and over, according to a recent study published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä, found that cardiovascular disease mortality among people who sauna four to seven times a week was 2.7 fatal heart attacks per 1,000. people per year, compared to 10.1 heart attacks per 1,000 people per year who only saunaed once a week. Professor Jari Laukkanen, the corresponding author, said: “An important finding of this research is that regular sauna use is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiac events in middle-aged women as well than in men.

Sauna lowers tension and stimulates the heart like physical exertion

Professor Laukkanen added: “There are several possible reasons why sauna use may decrease the risk of death. Our research team has shown in previous studies that high sauna use is associated with lower blood pressure. In addition, sauna use is known to trigger an increase in heart rate equal to that observed during low to moderate intensity physical exercise. »

45 minutes of sauna per week

The incidence (the number of new cases) of cardiovascular mortality during the study period also decreased as the time spent in the sauna per week increased. For those who spent more than 45 minutes per week in the sauna, in total, the incidence was 5.1 per 1,000 people while it was 9.6 for those who spent less than 15 minutes per week in the sauna.

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The authors assessed sauna use by a self-report questionnaire and then verified deaths from cardiovascular causes with records from hospitals and health centers, death certificates, as well as forensic reports for 1,688 attendees.

At the start of the study, the participants were on average 63 years old and 51.4% were women. Data for this prospective study were collected between 1998 and 2015 and the average follow-up time was 15 years. The observational nature of the study does not make it possible to clearly explain the links of cause and effect between the practice of the sauna and the reduction in fatal cardiovascular accidents.


Tanjaniina Laukkanen et al, Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality and improves risk prediction in men and women: a prospective cohort study, BMC Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1186/s12916-018-1198-0


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