Saunas protect middle-aged men against heart attacks

23rd of February 2015

The Finns describe them as the ‘poor man’s pharmacy’ and now researchers have proved that saunas are indeed beneficial to health.Scientists have found that the dry heat of a sauna does more than work up a sweat, it can actually prolong life, cutting the risk of a heart attack for middle-aged men by up to 63 per cent.However study authors from University of Eastern Finland said were unsure what was driving the heart health boost.“Further studies are warranted to establish the potential mechanism that links sauna bathing and cardiovascular health,” said lead author Dr Jari Laukkanen, who published the research in the journal Jama Internal Medicine.Sauna ‘bathing’ has taken place in Finland for thousands of years. The first settlers dug holes in the ground and filled them with hot stones which they sprinkled with water to give off a steam known as a ‘loyly.’ It was said each sauna had a distinctive ‘loyly’ with an individual character.A Finnish proverb states that “If a sick person is not cured by tar, spirits or sauna, then they will die” and until recently women gave birth in saunas, because they were viewed as the cleanest room in the house.A normal sauna is kept at around 158-176 degrees Fahrenheit and intriguingly, ‘Sauna’ is the only Finnish word to be included in everyday English.The study was conducted among 2,315 men aged 42 to 60 from eastern Finland, who were monitored over 21 years.During the follow-up period they recorded 190 sudden cardiac deaths, 281 fatal cases of coronary heart disease, 407 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 929 deaths from “all causes”.However those who had used saunas regularly seem to have been protected from heart problems.The risk of sudden cardiac death was found to be 22 per cent lower for men who had two to three sauna sessions per week and 63 per cent lower for those visiting a sauna four to seven times a week.A similar pattern was seen for coronary heart disease, with two to three sessions reducing the risk of death by 23 per cent and four to seven sessions by 48 per cent.

The Telegraph