Regular saunas are good for the heart, suggest studies.
Researchers have found that people with heart problems who took regular saunas in a week over a sustained period improved their heart functions.
In a study by Takashi Ohori at the University of Toyama in Japan and others, 41 volunteers with heart failure were made to take 15-minute saunas five times a week, using a blanket for 30 minutes afterwards to keep their body temperature about 1øC higher than normal, New Scientist reported.
The results showed that there was an increase in the heart's ability to pump blood and the participants were also able to increase the distance they were able to walk in 6 minutes - from 337 metres to 379 metres.
The same group conducted a different study in which blood supply was temporarily cut off to rats' hearts to create heart attack conditions, then they were given a sauna every day for four weeks.
Fewer changes to the heart chambers were noticed than the changes that usually occur after heart attacks in rats not exposed to a sauna. They also showed increases in the enzyme that regulates blood pressure and growth of new blood vessels.
Cardiologists currently don't recommend that heart failure patients be exposed to heat, which is why researchers caution against sauna treatments without medical supervision.