People suffering from high blood pressure may find an unconventional treatment option readily available: going to the sauna.
Researchers in eastern Finland conducted an experiment in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Study to determine if regular trips to these heated baths have an effect on high blood pressure. They recruited 1,621 male participants composed of men who did not have an elevated blood pressure of over 140/90 mmHg, and men who were diagnosed with hypertension, who were also taking medications for the condition.
The participants were placed into three categories based on their bathing habits: the men who took sauna baths once a week, those who visited the sauna two or three times a week, and those who frequented saunas four to seven times a week.
The study did a 22-year follow-up, and found that 15% of the men developed clinically defined hypertension. In addition, the risk of hypertension had dropped by 24% among the men who went to the sauna two to three times a week. The odds decreased even more for those who went to the sauna four to seven times a week by as much as 46%.
“Regular sauna bathing is associated with reduced risk of hypertension, which may be a mechanism underlying the decreased cardiovascular risk associated with sauna use,” the study concludes.
Regular sauna bathing helps improve how the inside layer of blood vessels function, the researchers state. Sweating also plays a key role in lowering high blood pressure risks by removing fluids from the body that may contribute to hypertension. Saunas are also an excellent way to relax and de-stress, which is another factor in hypertension risk.
The study was published in the American Journal of Hypertension.