Saunas have longer life spans and fewer fatal heart problems. A few days later, they broke the ice dam. Now they are shaking in the cold this week. I don't mind sitting in the sauna room for a while. A new report in the JAMA Journal of Internal Medicine adds to the appeal of this pastime: spending time in saunas may help keep the heart healthy and prolong life.
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland tracked an average of 2,300 middle-aged men for 20 years and divided them into three groups based on the frequency of sauna use per week. At 175 degrees F, these people participated in baking for an average of 14 minutes each time. During the study, 49% of men went to sauna once a week to die, while 38% of those who visited the sauna three to three times a week were one third of those who visited the sauna from Thursday to seven times a week. Frequent visits to the sauna were also associated with reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The results of Dr Thomas H. Lee, a Harvard psychologist, a cardiologist at Brigham Women's Hospital affiliated to Harvard University and founding editor of Harvard Cardiologist, are not surprising. "The cardiovascular effects of sauna have been well documented in the past. Dr. Li said: "There are good reasons to believe that lowering blood pressure is beneficial to blood vessels.
Researchers quickly declared that because of the unique nature of Finnish saunas, the results were not suitable for wet steaming rooms and hot tubs. Finnish sauna houses are made of wood and are usually heated by stone-heated sauna stoves. The air in the sauna room is very hot and dry, although the sauna room regularly adds water to the stones to produce what is called "beautiful" steam.
Early studies have shown that regular saunas may benefit people with heart disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. For patients with mild heart failure, it is usually safe and may be beneficial, but for patients with unstable angina or recent heart attacks, it may not be so hot.
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