Can Saunas Reduce Your Risk Of Having A Stroke?

It turns out that saunas might be more than just a just a great form of relaxation. Having found their origins in Finland, saunas today have become increasingly popular all over the world. The term ‘sauna’ can be directly translated from Finnish to mean ‘bathhouse’. The first sauna can be traced back to Finland where it was dug into a dam in the ground. Over time saunas were eventually built above ground.

Today, saunas can be found in various gyms, spas and even homes. Many individuals use them after leaving the gym while others bask it them as part of their spa treat. Aside from the relaxation that comes from stepping into a sauna, a new
study has revealed the probable effect that saunas can have on your stroke risk.

The study

Researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom found a potential correlation between sauna use and a lowered risk of stroke. The study was based in Finland, where saunas are so common that many people have them in their homes. In the study, researchers looked at 1,628 men and women aged between 53 and 74 years old. None of them had a history of stroke and they were followed for an average of 15 years. The participants filled out questionnaires, answering how often they took saunas. Data collected also included:

  • alcohol intake,
  • smoking,
  • blood pressure,
  • cholesterol levels and
  • physical activity.

The results

The study found that those who spent more time in the sauna indeed had a lower risk of having a stroke. More specifically, individuals who had saunas four to seven times a week had a 60 percent lower risk than those who only had one sauna per week. Researchers even went as far as to adjust the findings, taking into account risk factors such as smoking and cholesterol levels, yet the results remained the same. “These results are exciting because they suggest that this activity that people use for relaxation and pleasure may also have beneficial effects on your vascular health,” says lead study author, Setor K. Kunutsor.  You can read more about the study here.

The verdict on saunas

It’s important to remember that this study is observational and it only shows an association between the amount of saunas taken and stroke risk. Furthermore, the study does not prove that sauna use itself can help to prevent strokes. A more conclusive study is required and this would need more logistics and participants outside of Finland. That being said, previous studies have also linked regular sauna use to improved cardiovascular health. This still does not mean that you should rush to have a sauna, however. If you regularly do saunas then you can use this study as an excuse to keep at it. For first time users, though, you need stay clear of saunas if you’ve recently had a heart attack or you have low blood pressure. If not, Kunutsor suggests that you proceed with caution and that you test individual heat tolerance and increase the frequency and intensity of sauna use slowly.

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