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Sauna, Heart Health and Longevity

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“Frequenting the sauna appears to be connected to a reduced risk of number of cardiovascular conditions including heart failure and coronary heart disease and ultimately lead to enhanced longevity…”

The mission of the Galen Foundation says nothing about longevity. In fact, I view my health objective to focus on quality of life not quantity of life. The thing is, frequenting the sauna (SA) does both. Sauna-ing will enhance my heart health, my brain health and may even increase my longevity.

I underwent aggressive conventional cancer therapies for my blood cancer diagnosis in early 1994 through diagnosis of my end-stage cancer in September of 1997.

I’m telling you this to explain why I live with a series of long-term and late stage side effects. The therapy that was supposed to cure me will probably kill me.

So I spend my time researching and blogging about evidenced-based non-toxic, non-conventional therapies to manage my many side effects. SA is one of those therapies.

I supplement, follow a pretty clean, nutritious diet, exercise (moderately) each day and take a SA daily.

I’m 59 years old. I’m 25 years into my heart-healthy lifestyle. The average overall survival of people diagnosed with my cancer, multiple myeloma, is 5-7 years. I’m doing okay in the longevity department but I want to do better. Stay tuned.

Have you been diagnosed with chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy (CIC)? To learn more about managing your heart health scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Hang in there,

David Emerson

  • CIC Survivor
  • Cardiac Rehab Coach
  • Director The Galen Foundation

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The Strange Connection Between Saunas and Longevity

“Frequenting the sauna appears to be connected to a reduced risk of number of cardiovascular conditions including heart failure and coronary heart disease and ultimately lead to a longer life, according to a new study in journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers collected health data for more than 2,300 Finnish men who used the sauna between 1984 and 1985. The researchers followed up on the participants in 2011. Higher frequency and longer duration of sauna use was correlated with less risk for heart problems and a lower chance of mortality.

“More is better,” says study author Jari Laukkanen of the time spent in the sauna. “It seems that with more than four sauna sessions per week had a lowest risk, but also those with two to three sauna sessions may get some benefits.”

The benefits of sauna use are much like those of exercise, according to the study. Sauna use increases heart rate and greatly boosts sweat levels like light or moderate exercise does. Overall, sauna use also leads to “better relaxation and well-being,” Laukkanen said…

Before you head to the sauna it’s worth noting that not all saunas are built equal. The study looked specifically at Finnish saunas, which typically have very dry air and a temperature between 80 and 100 degrees Celsius—that’s a minimum of 176 degrees Fahrenheit…”

Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events

Objective  To investigate the association of frequency and duration of SA bathing with the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD), fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD), and all-cause mortality…

Exposures  Frequency and duration of SA bathing assessed at baseline.

Results  During a median follow-up of 20.7 years (interquartile range, 18.1-22.6 years), 190 SCDs, 281 fatal CHDs, 407 fatal CVDs, and 929 all-cause mortality events occurred. A total of 601, 1513, and 201 participants reported having a SA bathing session 1 time per week, 2 to 3 times per week, and 4 to 7 times per week, respectively.

The numbers (percentages) of SCDs were 61 (10.1%), 119 (7.8%), and 10 (5.0%) in the 3 groups of the frequency of SA bathing. The respective numbers were 89 (14.9%), 175 (11.5%), and 17 (8.5%) for fatal CHDs; 134 (22.3%), 249 (16.4%), and 24 (12.0%) for fatal CVDs; and 295 (49.1%), 572 (37.8%), and 62 (30.8%) for all-cause mortality events.

After adjustment for CVD risk factors, compared with men with 1 SA bathing session per week, the hazard ratio of SCD was 0.78 (95% CI, 0.57-1.07) for 2 to 3 sauna bathing sessions per week and 0.37 (95% CI, 0.18-0.75) for 4 to 7 sauna bathing sessions per week (P for trend = .005).

Similar associations were found with CHD, CVD, and all-cause mortality (P for trend ≤.005). Compared with men having a SA bathing session of less than 11 minutes, the adjusted hazard ratio for SCD was 0.93 (95% CI, 0.67-1.28) for sauna bathing sessions of 11 to 19 minutes and 0.48 (95% CI, 0.31-0.75) for sessions lasting more than 19 minutes (P for trend = .002); significant inverse associations were also observed for fatal CHDs and fatal CVDs (P for trend ≤.03) but not for all-cause mortality events.

Conclusions and Relevance  Increased frequency of SA bathing is associated with a reduced risk of SCD, CHD, CVD, and all-cause mortality. Further studies are warranted to establish the potential mechanism that links sauna bathing and cardiovascular health.”

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