People taking a sauna bath for four to seven times a week were 61 percent susceptible to stroke as compared to those taking sauna once a week, concludes a study published in the journal Neurology. This is the first prospective large-scale study on this topic.
The study was conducted by Setor K. Kunutsor, Ph.D., of the University of Bristol in the U.K, and colleagues, to assess the association between frequency of sauna bathing and risk of future stroke.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, placing a heavy economic and human burden on societies. The reduced risk associated with sauna bathing was found by a team of scientists from the Universities of Eastern Finland, Bristol, Leicester, Emory, Cambridge and Innsbruck.
According to the researchers, mechanisms driving the association of sauna bathing with reduced stroke may include a reduction in blood pressure, stimulation of immune system, a positive impact on the autonomic nervous system, and an improved cardiovascular function.
“Previous studies have shown that sauna bathing may be associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, dementia and death from cardiovascular disease, but this is the first study on sauna use and the risk of stroke,” Kunutsor said. “Saunas appear to have a blood pressure lowering effect, which may underlie the beneficial effect on stroke risk.”
The findings are based on the assessment of 1,628 adult men and women aged 53–74 years without a known history of stroke in the Finnish Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease prospective cohort study. Based on their frequency of taking traditional Finnish sauna baths, the study participants were divided into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna two to three times a week, and those taking a sauna four to seven times a week.
The more frequently saunas were taken, the lower was the risk of stroke. Compared to people taking one sauna session per week, the risk was decreased by 14 per cent among those with two to three sessions and 61 per cent among those with four to seven sessions. The association persisted even when taking into account conventional stroke risk factors, such as age, sex, diabetes, body mass index, blood lipids, alcohol consumption, physical activity and socio-economic status. The strength of association was similar in men and women.
A limitation of the study was that the study was based on traditional Finnish saunas and the results cannot be applied to other types of heat therapy such as infrared heat exposure, steam rooms and hot tubs.
Based on the study, the researchers concluded that middle-aged to elderly men and women who take frequent sauna baths have a substantially reduced risk of new-onset stroke.
For further information click on the link: https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000005606
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