Is Sauna Good For Heart Patients?

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Published: May 27, 2022


Is sauna good for heart patients? Well, this is a question that health professionals have been debating for years. Some say that saunas are beneficial, while others claim that they can be detrimental to heart health.

A recent study by the University of Eastern Finland found that sauna bathing is associated with a lower risk of sudden cardiac death, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease. But is this enough to say that saunas are good for heart health?

This article explores the benefits and risks of saunas to help you make an informed decision about whether or not they are right for you.

What is a Sauna?

Before we answer whether a sauna is good for heart patients, we must first understand what a sauna is.

A sauna is designed to produce a dry, hot environment that closely resembles a steam room. Its purpose is to help people relax and detoxify their bodies.

Saunas have been used for centuries by different cultures around the world, including the Finnish, who are thought to be the inventors of the sauna.

The word “sauna” is actually a Finnish word that means “bath”.

Saunas can be found in various places, including homes, gyms, spas, and even some public swimming pools.

Because the heat of a sauna makes your blood vessels dilate (expand) it can have a positive effect on your heart and circulatory system. However, if you are suffering from heart conditions, there are some important things to bear in mind before hopping into a steam room.

Saunas and Heart Health

Now that you have some basic information about saunas, the overarching question is – is sauna good for heart patients?

There are many proven ways in which spending time in a sauna can be good for heart health. They include:

Sauna Affects Heart and Blood Vessels like Moderate Exercise

Moderate exercise is good for heart health. It helps to reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

While the effects of spending time in a sauna on heart health have not been studied as extensively as moderate exercise, the available research suggests that saunas have similar cardiovascular benefits.

Researchers tested the effects of spending 30 minutes in a Sauna in one study. The results showed that sauna bathing had similar cardiovascular benefits to moderate exercise, including a reduction in blood pressure and an increase in heart rate.

This explains why those who regularly spend time in a sauna have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Generally, those involved in the study experienced a drop in artery “stiffness” and an increase in blood flow immediately following sauna use.

Saunas generate sweating, which causes the body to get rid of excess fluid. This is a natural diuretic effect that can help to reduce blood pressure and improve circulation.

Saunas May Prevent Arrhythmias or Irregular Heartbeats

Sauna use can also help to prevent arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. These are often caused by electrolyte imbalances, which can be corrected by sweating out excess fluids.

Arrhythmia is a condition where the heart rate is irregular, often too fast or slow. It can be caused by many factors such as electrolyte imbalance, stress, anxiety, and some medications. Studies have shown that sauna use can help to prevent arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats.

In one study, people with arrhythmia who used a sauna regularly were found to have fewer arrhythmia episodes than those who didn’t use a sauna.

Saunas May Help Reduce the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death

Sudden cardiac death is sudden, unexpected death from a heart problem. It usually happens when the heart stops beating. Sauna use may help reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death.

In one study, men who used a sauna four to seven times per week were found to have a 63% lower risk of sudden cardiac death than those who didn’t use a sauna. The risk was even lower in men who used a sauna more than seven times per week.

Saunas May Help Improve Heart Function in People with Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition where the heart can’t pump blood as well as it should. This can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

Most people suffering from heart failure are advised to avoid saunas, as they can cause dehydration and make the condition worse.

However, studies have shown that sauna use can help improve heart function in people with heart failure. For example, in one study, people with heart failure who used a sauna three times per week for 30 minutes had better heart function than those who didn’t. The sauna users also had less congestion and fewer hospitalizations.

While more research is needed, these studies suggest that saunas may have some benefits for people with heart failure. However, if you have heart failure, talk to your doctor before using a sauna.

Sauna Bathing is Therapeutic for People with Hypertension or CHF

Sauna bathing is therapeutic for people with hypertension or congestive heart failure (CHF). It lowers blood pressure and helps the heart pump more efficiently.

Hypertension is a condition in which the force of your blood against your artery walls is too high. If left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other serious health problems.

CHF occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, and swelling in the ankles and feet.

Sauna bathing improves the vascular endothelial function, which is the lining of your blood vessels. This helps to lower blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood. This is important for people with CHF and hypertension.

When Heart Patients Should Avoid the Sauna

After answering the question, is sauna good for the heart, we need to look at when the sauna is not good for the heart. There are certain heart conditions where the increased heart rate and blood flow from sitting in a sauna can be dangerous. They include:

Unstable Angina

Unstable angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the blood flow to your heart muscle is reduced. This can happen when the arteries that supply your heart with blood narrow, usually because of plaque buildup. When this happens, your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood, and you may experience chest pain or discomfort.

The increased heart rate and blood flow from sitting in a sauna can worsen your symptoms.

Aortic Aneurysm

An aortic aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning in the large blood vessel that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body. This bulge can weaken the vessel and cause it to rupture, which is life-threatening.

The heat exposure from saunas can cause changes in the blood vessels leading to an increased risk of aortic aneurysms.

Aortic Valve Stenosis

Aortic valve stenosis is a narrowing of the opening of the aortic valve, which is the valve that controls blood flow from your heart to the rest of your body. This narrowing can reduce blood flow and cause symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and fainting.

The increased blood flow from saunas can worsen the symptoms of aortic valve stenosis.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is the buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. This buildup can narrow the arteries and reduce blood flow to your heart.

Saunas can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, which can worsen the symptoms of coronary artery disease.

Decompensated heart failure

Even though saunas can help improve the symptoms of heart failure, they can also cause fluid retention and electrolyte imbalances. This can lead to a worsening of symptoms in people with decompensated heart failure. If you have heart failure, talk to your doctor before using a sauna.

Elderly Persons Prone to Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension is a sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand up. This can cause you to feel lightheaded or dizzy.

Elderly persons are more prone to orthostatic hypotension, and the heat exposure from saunas can make this condition worse.

If you have any of these conditions, talk to your doctor before using a sauna. The professional will help you decide if the benefits of using a sauna outweigh the risks.

How Heart Patients Can Make the Best of the Sauna Experience

There are a few tips that heart patients should keep in mind when enjoying a sauna. They include:

  • Stay Hydrated

The heat of the sauna can cause dehydration, so it’s essential to drink plenty of fluids before and after your sauna session. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

  • Warm Up First

Saunas can be tough on the heart, so it’s important to warm up before entering one. Take a few minutes to walk around the sauna area and gradually increase your heart rate. This will help your body adjust to the heat more slowly and reduce your risk of a heart attack.

  • Cool Down After

Once you’re done with your sauna session, take a few minutes to cool down. Sit or lie down in a cool, comfortable place and drink some water. Then, gradually increase your activity level until you’re back to your regular routine.

  • Listen to Your Body

It’s important to listen to your body when you’re in the sauna. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or short of breath, take a break and cool down. Don’t push yourself too hard, and stop if you start to feel uncomfortable. RECOMMENDED: How to use sauna

Conclusion

Saunas can be a great way to relax and detoxify the body, but they need to be used with caution by heart patients. You can make the most of your sauna experience and avoid any potential risks by following these tips.

At Temperature Sensei, we believe that saunas can improve our lives in a multitude of ways, but we want to promote safe and responsible sauna usage. Make sure you’re fully comfortable with the ins and outs of saunas and heart disease before using one for yourself.

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