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Lower heart risk with frequent baths

Wednesday March 25th, 2020

Having a daily bath may help reduce the risk of death from heart disease and stroke, Japanese researchers suggest today.

This may be through the beneficial effects of heat on the body - which are not dissimilar to those of exercise, say Professor Hiroyasu Iso and colleagues at Osaka University, Japan.

In the BMJ journal Heart today (25 March), they report on their study of the bathing habits of about 43,000 middle aged adults (45 to 59 years) taking part in the Japan Public Health Centre based Study Cohort 1.

Rates of cardiovascular conditions were measured 19 years later. Once other risk factors were taken into account, a daily hot bath was associated with a 28% lower overall risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 26% lower overall risk of stroke, compared with a once or twice weekly bath or no bath at all.

However, frequency of bathing was not linked to the risk of sudden cardiac death, or subarachnoid haemorrhage.

The researchers write: "We found that frequent tub bathing was significantly associated with a lower risk of hypertension, suggesting that a beneficial effect of tub bathing on risk of [cardiovascular disease] may in part be due to a reduced risk of developing hypertension."

In a linked editorial, Dr Andrew Felix Burden from Exeter, UK, points out that conversely, sudden death associated with hot baths is relatively common in Japan.

"There can be no doubt about the potential dangers of bathing in hot water, and the occurrence of death from this increases with age, as well as with the temperature of the water," he writes.

"Investigations into the potential cardiovascular benefit of heat-free immersion in warm to hot water are needed."

Iso, H. et al. Habitual tub bathing and risks of incident coronary heart disease and stroke. Heart 25 March 2020 doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2019-315752

Tags: Asia | Heart Health

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