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June 1, 2024

New Research Concludes: Sauna Baths Lower Hypertension.

woman and man sitting in sauna to lower blood pressure

New Research Concludes: Sauna Baths Lower Hypertension.

A Finnish Proverb States: “A sauna is… the poor man’s pharmacy”. Apparently, Finns know about the connection between sauna and high blood pressure. And not just them: a new study released in the American Journal of Hypertension shows the regular sauna bathing helps prevent and reduce hypertension.

“Sauna bathing may have various health benefits including a reduced cardiovascular risk. We have previously shown that regular sauna bathing could be a protective factor against the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Specifically, participants reporting 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week had a markedly reduced risk of fatal heart disease events compared to participants with 1 sauna session per week. This was independently of well-established risk factors as well as several other potential problems.”

How Sauna Bathes Help

The underlying physiological mechanisms for this protective effect, however, are still unknown. Prior studies have shown that sauna bathing is associated with better cardiovascular function and produces positive short-term effects on systemic blood pressure, although the long-term effects of habitual sauna bathing on the risk of hypertension have not been previously investigated.

Tight control of blood pressure is a cornerstone in the prevention of heart disease. Recent studies have confirmed the importance of blood pressure reduction, suggesting additional cardiovascular benefits for systolic blood pressure (SBP) of less than 120 mm Hg as compared with less than 140 mm Hg.

As sauna bathing produces acute vasodilation which leads to a significant drop in blood pressure, regular sauna bathing could potentially result in long-term reduction of blood pressure.

This mechanism may further explain the protective effects of sauna bathing on the cardiovascular system. In this study, we aimed to investigate whether sauna bathing was associated with a reduced risk of incident hypertension using a long-term prospective cohort study comprising of apparently healthy middle-aged Finnish men without a history of hypertension at baseline.

The Clinical Study

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To do so, they studied about 1,600 men without an elevated blood pressure of over 140/90 mmHg and men who were diagnosed with hypertension.

They then categorized the participants into three categories based on their bathing habits: those who take sauna baths once a week, two or three times a week or four to seven times a week.

During a 22-year follow-up, they found that about 15 percent of the men developed clinically defined hypertension.

They also discovered the risk of hypertension had decreased 24 percent among those who bathed two to three times a week. As for those who bathed four to seven times a week, chances of hypertension went down by 46 percent.

According to the researchers, regular sauna bathing helps improve the function of the inside layer of blood vessels. Sweating also plays a role as it removes fluids from the body, which contributions of the reduction of blood pressure levels.

Plus, saunas also aid with the overall relaxation – another factor in reducing high blood pressure.

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4 Replies to “New Research Concludes: Sauna Baths Lower Hypertension.”

  1. When I go to the gym, around 2/3 times a week, I usually spend 15 mins in the steam room rather than use the sauna.
    Is the steam room likely to have a similar bp reducing effect?

    1. The difference between a sauna and a steam room can be summed up simply — dry vs. wet. Saunas provide dry heat, while steam rooms generate moist heat. Both can open up your pores, loosen up your muscles and help you relax. Steam rooms can have beneficial health effects, including reduced stress, improved circulation, and relief of muscle pain. They can help clear your sinuses, and they open your pores and cleanse your skin. People with high blood pressure are generally advised not to use steam rooms, but steam’s advantages of relaxation and vascular dilation for people with mild hypertension might outweigh any risks. With the proper precautions, you can enjoy the health benefits of a steam bath.

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