Study: regular sauna reduces heart attack deaths for men and women

Previous research had focused only on heart attack health benefits for men who use sauna - now Finnish scientists show the benefits for women too.

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File picture of sauna / Credit: News Now Finland

New research published today shows for the first time that regular sauna sessions have health benefits for both men and women.

The study, by scientists at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä reveals that older people suffered fewer fatal heart attacks when they had regular sauna sessions.

In fact, the more sauna sessions per week, for longer periods, the lower the risk of heart attack death for middle-aged to elderly men and women in general – with an average sauna temperature of +80°C.

Previously, studies had only proved this link between saunas and cardiovascular disease in men and the latest research from Finland now included women in the study.

The new research looked at the sauna habits of almost 2000 men and women aged 53 to 74 and looked at their weight, medical history, smoking and drinking habits, and the amount of exercise they took each month. Researchers also got the participants to record their sauna sessions, how long they went for, how often, and the temperature inside sauna.

Conclusions: sauna + exercise = best results

So how many sauna sessions is good for the heart?

The university scientists conclude in their report that people who have four to seven sauna sessions per week have the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.

And people who also take regular exercise in addition to sauna have a “substantial reduction in the risk of fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events” the report says.

However, even people with low fitness levels have a reduced risk of heart attack death when they take even one or two sauna sessions per week.