A Finnish study has revealed that men who regularly visit a sauna live longer and were less likely to die of sudden heart attacks than men who did not visit as often. The study also found that staying more than 19 minutes in the sauna also appeared more beneficial than staying less than 11 minutes in the hot.
Researchers looked at the link between sauna bathing and the risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal cardiovascular disease and dying from any cause among a group of 2,315 middle-aged men (42 to 60 years old) from eastern Finland.
Comparing the risk of sudden cardiac death among those who reported going to sauna once a week to those who went two to three times, researchers found that the more frequent sauna-goers had a 22 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death, while those who went four to seven times a week had a 63 percent lower risk than those who went once.
Similarly, CHD risk was 23 percent lower for two to three bathing sessions per week and 48 percent lower for four to seven sauna sessions per week compared to once a week.
The study found that the risk of dying from heart disease was 27 percent lower for men who took saunas two to three times a week and 50 percent lower for men who were in the sauna four to seven times a week, again compared to those who went once per week.
When researchers looked at the risk of dying from any cause, they found sauna bathing two to three times per week was associated with a 24 percent lower risk, and sauna bathing four to seven days a week was linked to a 40 percent reduction in death risk.
Study lead Jari Laukkanen said, "Further studies are warranted to establish the potential mechanism that links sauna bathing and cardiovascular health."
The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine.