Gayda M, Paillard F, Sosner P, Juneau M, Garzon M, Gonzalez M, Bélanger M, Nigam A.
Cardiovascular and Prevention Centre, Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The effects of sauna alone vs exercise and sauna on ambulatory blood pressure monitoring and central hemodynamic variables were measured in 16 patients with untreated hypertension assigned to a control period, sauna, or exercise and sauna. Exercise and sauna had positive effects on 24-hour systolic and mean blood pressure in patients with untreated hypertension. Exercise and sauna and sauna alone reduce total vascular resistance, with positive effects lasting up to 120 minutes after heat exposure.
Richard Beever, BSc MD CCFP CI
OBJECTIVE: Far-infrared saunas are beneficial for the treatment of congestive heart failure, hypertension and obesity. As such, they may have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular (CV) health in those with type 2 diabetes. Our objective is to examine whether or not there are quantitative CV benefits from infrared sauna use.
METHODS: The intervention consisted of 20-minute, thriceweekly infrared sauna sessions, over a period of 3 months. The following CV risk factors were measured: weight, height, waist circumference, blood pressure (BPtru), glycated hemoglobin (A1C), fasting blood glucose and cholesterol profile. Baseline study parameters were measured within one week prior to commencing sauna sessions. Post-intervention measurements were collected between 1 and 3 days after the last sauna session.
RESULTS: Systolic blood pressure decreased by 6.4mm Hg (124±12 vs. 118±15mm Hg, 95% CI 0.01-12.71 p=0.05), and there was a trend toward decreased waist circumference (115.0±13.4 vs. 112.7±11.9cm, 95% CI 0.4-5.1 p=0.10). All other measurements did not change significantly. There were no adverse events. Study completion rate was 75%.
Our results suggest that far infrared sauna use may be beneficial for lowering blood pressure and waist circumference. Subject adherence to infrared sauna use is greater than adherence to other lifestyle interventions. The combination of favourable compliance/adherence, as well as effectiveness in improving blood pressure and possibly waist circumference, makes infrared sauna therapy an attractive lifestyle option.