High Blood Pressure Is Not Good for The Heart
The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines blood pressure as the unit of measurement that measures the amount of force put against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps out blood to your body. A normal measurement of blood pressure is defined as anything lower than 120/80 mm HG, usually. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is anything over 140/90 mm HG. There are a variety of factors that can cause hypertension such as your hormone levels; the conditions of your blood vessels, kidneys, or nervous system; the amount of water and salt you have in your body, and your age. Higher risk of blood pressure affects those who are African American, often stressed, overweight, drink a higher amount of alcohol, have a family history of high blood pressure, have diabetes or smoke. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, doctors will recommend making changes to your diet and lifestyle to manage your hypertension. Regular exercise, losing weight, and watching your sodium intake are all ways to manage high blood pressure. Oftentimes doctors will describe medication to help regulate your blood pressure as well. In addition to these lifestyle changes, regular sauna sits may also be a beneficial holistic option for managing blood pressure.
Infrared Saunas Go Easy On The Heart
There are several different types of saunas, but regardless the type the health benefit’s your body receives from them are all the same. In Infrared saunas, special lamps use light waves to heat a person’s body instead of the entire room. Infrared saunas are one of the few mediums that provide infrared heat in a controlled environment. Infrared heat is an invisible electromagnetic wave with a wavelength longer than that of visible light that helps improve blood flow. Typically in a traditional sauna, the surrounding air is heated up to about 185 degrees, which then heats your body up. However, in infrared saunas the temperature only reaches about 140 degrees. Infrared rays penetrate your body more deeply, which cause your body to start sweating at a lower temperature than a traditional sauna. According to a 2009 review of evidence done by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, researchers found that infrared saunas produce a lighter demand on the cardiovascular system, so they in turn might be beneficial to people who lead a more sedentary life due to medical issues.
Sauna Sits to Improve Blood Pressure?
According to a study found in the American Journal of Hypertension, spending time in a sauna may help lower our chances of developing high blood pressure. The study found that men in Finland who spent about 19 minutes in a sauna about four to seven times a week cut their risk of high blood pressure in almost half, compared to men who visited saunas only once a week. The study followed more than 1,600 middle-aged Finnish men for an average of 22 years. The analysis only included people with normal blood pressure who recorded visiting a sauna at least once a week. Over two decades, about 16 percent of those patients developed high blood pressure. After adjusting for risk factors such as alcohol intake, smoking, and weight, the men who took only one sauna sit per week were at the highest risk for developing high blood pressure, however that risk was reduced by 24 percent for men who took two to three sits each week and by 46 percent for patients that took four to seven each week.
How to Start with A Sauna
According to the American Heart Association, sauna bathing can increase the resting heart rate to between 100 and 150 beats per minute, which helps to improve your hearts blood pumping ability. Furthermore, researchers from the University of Eastern Finland say that sauna sits can increase the body temperature by up to 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause blood vessels to dilate—or open wider, which decreases your blood pressure and that helps your blood to flow better. When your body sweats, it removes fluid from the body which may also help to decreasing blood pressure. The study focused on Finnish Saunas that are between 176 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. As research continues to grow revealing the positive effects sauna sits have on the body, it is no wonder that the popularity of saunas are growing and can be found in doctor’s offices, wellness center, spas and private homes around the world. If you suffer from high blood pressure, infrared sauna sits may be a therapeutic option to relieve pain. Since there is no specific optimal infrared sauna temperature, frequency and duration to reduce blood pressure levels, be sure to speak with your doctor first to set up a sauna treatment plan. When you start with sauna sits, it is recommended that you only spend between five and 10 minutes for your first session. Once you get more acclimated to the heat, you can slowly increase your sauna sits to up to about 20 minutes. In addition to limiting the time spent in a sauna, experts also advise to avoid combining alcohol consumption with sauna use. According to a year-long study of people in Finland who experienced sudden death showed that the person had a sauna within the last three hours in 1.8 percent of cases and in the last 24 hours in 1.7 percent of cases. Many of these people had also consumed alcohol. Instead, no matter the type of sauna you use, it is recommended that you drink about two to four glasses of water after a sauna sit in order to replace the fluids lost from sweating.
Resources: MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine; Francesco Zaccardi, Tanjaniina Laukkanen, Peter Willeit, Setor K Kunutsor, Jussi Kauhanen, Jari A Laukkanen, “Sauna Bathing and Incident Hypertension: A Prospective Chohort Study,” American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 30, Issue 11, 1 November 2017, Pages 1120–1125; U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health;
Tanjaniina Laukkanen, MSc; Hassan Khan, MD,PhD; Francesco Zaccardi, MD, “Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events,” JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):542-548.doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187; J Am Coll Cardiol 2002;39:754-759; Kihara T, Biro S, Ikeda Y, et al. Effects of repeated sauna treatment on ventricular arrhythmias in patients with chronic heart failure Circ J 2004;68:1146-1151.