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Regular saunas reduce risk of stroke

Friday May 4th, 2018

People who take saunas between four and seven times a week have a lower risk of stroke than those who use them just once a week, the first large-scale international study of its kind has shown.

The research, which had a 15-year follow-up, people taking a sauna between four and seven times a week were 61% less likely to suffer a stroke than those taking a once weekly sauna.

A team of scientists from the Universities of Eastern Finland, Bristol, Leicester, Atlanta, Cambridge and Innsbruck based their findings on the population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) study, which involved 1,628 men and women aged 53 to 74 years living in the eastern part of Finland.

The study participants were divided into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna two-three times a week, and those taking a sauna four-seven times a week.

Writing in Neuron, the researchers say they found that the risk of stroke decreased the more frequently saunas were taken.

Compared to people taking one sauna session per week, the risk was decreased by 14% among those with two-three sessions and 61% among those who had the most sessions. The strength of association was similar in men and women.

This builds on previous results from the KIHD study at the University of Eastern Finland, which showed that frequent sauna bathing also significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

They believe that mechanisms driving the association of sauna bathing with reduced stroke may include a reduction in blood pressure, stimulation of immune system, a positive impact on the autonomic nervous system, and an improved cardiovascular function.

Lead researcher Dr Setor Kunutsor, from Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences at the University of Bristol's Musculoskeletal Research Unit, said "The findings are very significant and highlight the multiple health benefits of taking frequent sauna baths."

Kunutsor S, Hassan K, Francesco Z et al. Sauna bathing reduces the risk of stroke in Finnish men and women: A prospective cohort study. Neurology 3 May 2018.

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Europe | Fitness | Heart Health | UK News

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