In the first large-scale study of its kind, experts have linked sauna bathing to a significantly lower risk of stroke. Study participants who used a sauna four to seven times a week were found to be 61 percent less likely to have a stroke compared to participants who used a sauna once a week.
The investigation, which was led by the University of Bristol, was focused on 1,628 men and women aged 53 to 74 years living in the eastern part of Finland. The individuals had taken part in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) study at the University of Eastern Finland.
The participants were divided into three groups based on how frequently they took traditional Finnish sauna baths. The study revealed that the risk of stroke was lowered with a higher frequency of sauna usage.
Individuals who took a sauna bath two to three times per week had a 14 percent less chance of a stroke compared to those who took one sauna bath per week. For those who took four to seven sauna baths per week, stroke risk was reduced by 61 percent.
The researchers accounted for conventional stroke risk factors and found the effect was the same.
Lead author Dr. Setor Kunutsor is an expert at the University of Bristol’s Musculoskeletal Research Unit.
“The findings are very significant and highlight the multiple health benefits of taking frequent sauna baths,” said Dr. Kunutsor.
Previous evaluations based on data from the KIHD study demonstrated a correlation between the frequency of sauna bathing and a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
The study authors pointed out that the relationship between sauna usage and reduced stroke occurrence may be attributed to other health benefits of sauna bathing such as reduction in blood pressure, stimulation of immune system, a positive impact on the autonomic nervous system, and an improved cardiovascular function.
The study is published in the journal in Neurology.
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer