Hypertension, high blood pressure, can be a strong indicator of future catastrophic coronary events such as heart attack, cardiac failure, stroke, and heart disease. It is a precursor to the some of the leading causes of death in Americans. Hypertension is defined as the force with which your heart pumps blood through your arteries. This and the amount of blood your heart pushes out with each beat affect your blood pressure. While potentially problematic, hypertension may not always exhibit strong side effects. Risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- Family History
- Being overweight
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Tobacco Use
- Too much salt in your diet
- Too little potassium
- Alcohol Use
- Certain chronic illnesses
While we have discussed the health benefits of sauna use for the reduction of risk of heart-related illnesses, it should be of no surprise that regular sauna use can prevent and reduce risk of hypertension. A study out of Finland showed that:
Men who regularly used the sauna four to seven times a week reduced their risk of developing hypertension by 46%. While those who used the sauna two to three times a week lowered their risk by 24%.
Now, the act of being in a sauna does not immediately reflect a lower blood pressure. It’s quite the contrary. During your sauna session the intense heat will cause your blood pressure to rise. However when measurements are taken after a sauna session, blood pressure is generally lower than the your baseline levels. Effectively, putting your heart and arteries under controlled pressure in a sauna can improve your heart’s response to future malfunctions or illnesses.
Now the main reason for sauna bathing’s success at improving cardiac health is its simulation of moderate intensity exercise. As we all know the benefits of physical activity, sauna bathing can allow those who are unable to perform certain exercise an opportunity to reap those same benefits in a low impact environment. For those who look to improve upon their fitness performance, adding a sauna session to their workout regime will intensify and contribute to their positive health benefits.