Postdate: 12 March 2018
Enjoying the sauna is a privilege. There are not many people who doubt its impact on health. For some, it is even a way of life. Is it actually good for your blood pressure and your heart?
Increased heart rate
Best-known are the wet steam saunas, in which temperatures rise to over 80 degrees. Your body temperature goes up and therefore, so does your heart rate. Sometimes even to a significant extent. Your blood vessels dilate, allowing more blood flow into your skin. Your heart will have to pump more powerfully. It appears to be making the same effort as for a sporting activity.
Is that really safe? Most of the research on this was done in countries where people visit the sauna frequently. In Finland it was found that even people who have previously had a heart attack, do not need to have any fears about danger from the sauna. There were no heart problems despite strong increases in the activity of the heart.
Lowering of blood pressure
And what about cases of high blood pressure? It is not yet fully concluded, but it looks like blood pressure drops rather than increases.This has to do with dilatation of the blood vessels. This creates a larger area through which the blood can flow. More lanes on the road so to speak. This also decreases the traffic load quite a lot.
In heart failure - a serious form of heart disease – a demonstrable improvement in heart function is created. Patients feel better. There are fewer missed beats in heart rhythm. This points out a favourable effect in such a situation. This study showed that patients felt better, and actually needed fewer hospital admissions.
When it is not safe? Of course, the sauna is not safe for everyone with a heart condition. If the heart complaints are erratic or unstable then don’t go to the sauna. The same applies if your blood pressure is already low or if you have a serious valve disorder.
In other cases, the sauna is safe, and even possible of beneficial in heart disease. So, enjoy the sauna in the knowledge that it is good for you.