Regular sauna bathing ( 4-7 sessions a week ) reduces the risk of stroke by 61 percent, finds a study based on the population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) that involved 1,628 men and women aged 53 to 74 years living in the eastern part of Finland.
Finland is the birthplace of the traditional sauna which involves sitting in a room filled with dry heat at temperatures that top 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a 15-year follow-up study — published in the journal Neurology — people taking a sauna 4-7 times a week were 61 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those taking a sauna once a week.
The study participants were divided into three groups based on their frequency of taking traditional Finnish sauna baths (relative humidity 10-20 percent) : those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna 2-3 times a week, and those taking a sauna 4-7 times a week.
The more frequently saunas were taken, the lower was the risk of stroke. Compared to people taking one sauna session per week, the risk was decreased by 14 percent among those with 2-3 sessions and 61 percent among those with 4-7 sessions.
It’s not clear whether the results would extend to other types of heat therapy — from steam rooms to hot tubs — that are more common in other countries, said lead researcher Setor Kunutsor.
The association persisted even when taking into account conventional stroke risk factors, such as age, sex, diabetes, body mass index, blood lipids, alcohol consumption, physical activity and socio-economic status. The strength of association was similar in men and women.
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,according to the researchers.
Previous results from the KIHD study at the University of Eastern Finland have shown that frequent sauna bathing also significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
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Regular bedtime beneficial for heart and metabolic health among older adults
KATHMANDU — Sufficient sleep has been proven to help keep the body healthy and the mind sharp. But a new study on sleep patterns has suggested that a regular bedtime and wake time are just as important for heart and metabolic health among older adults too.
Researchers at Duke Health and the Duke Clinical Research Institute, in a study of 1,978 older adults, have found that people with irregular sleep patterns weighed more, had higher blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and a higher projected risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years than those who slept and woke at the same times every day.
The study was published Sept 21 in the journal Scientific Reports.
“From our study, we can’t conclude that sleep irregularity results in health risks, or whether health conditions affect sleep,” said study’s lead author Jessica Lunsford-Avery.
“Perhaps all of these things are impacting each other.”
African-Americans had the most irregular sleep patterns compared to participants who were white, Chinese-American or Hispanic, the data showed.
Still, the data suggest tracking sleep regularity could help identify people at risk of disease, and where health disparities may impact specific groups.
Irregular sleepers were also more likely to report depression and stress than regular sleepers, both of which are tied to heart health.Follow @gorkhapost