Responsible for more than half a million deaths per year, heart disease plagues both men and women. While the average number of annual deaths continues to rise and medical professionals encourage prevention, scientists have released research linking sauna use to a reduced risk of heart disease, HealthDay News reports.
Published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers' findings were surprising. Finnish scientists performed a longitudinal study designed to assess whether frequency and duration of sauna use affected risk of heart disease. Researchers specifically measured whether each of the more than 2,300 male participants experienced a fatal form of heart disease.
Results indicate habitual sauna use – two or more times per week – may reduce an individual's risk of experiencing a heart disease-related death. For participants who spent longer than 19 minutes per sauna session, risk of heart disease plummeted by more than 50 percent. In fact, the results lead researchers to conclude a minimum of 10 minutes in the sauna at least twice a week may be enough to reduce risk of heart disease by 20 percent.
It is unknown at this time whether other factors, such as lifestyle and diet, are affecting the study's results and potential implications. According to a spokesman for the American Heart Association, Dr. Elliott Antman, "We don't know for sure that using the sauna was definitely the cause of the lower rate of cardiovascular events observed in those patients who used the sauna."
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the cause of heart disease has been linked to high blood pressure, smoking, poor diet, insulin resistance, and blood vessel inflammation. With the yearly number of heart attacks approaching 1 million, controlling the possible causes of heart disease is a public health priority. Known to have a positive impact on hemodynamic function, sauna use might be added to the official list of preventative measures in the future.
Recently reported by Inquisitr, heart disease has taken the lead as the top cause of death in the United States and remains a risk factor for both sexes due to genetic predisposition for the condition. However, preventative measures, like quitting smoking or maintaining a healthy weight, are encouraged by medical professionals.
Although a cause-and-effect relationship between sauna use and lack of heart disease has not been determined, the study does offer hope that preventing heart disease might be both necessary and enjoyable. However, supporting research with similar results is needed before the scientific community will accept sauna use as a mode of heart disease prevention.