Stroke is one of the top leading cost of death around the globe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States alone, strokes kill approximately 140,000 Americans every year and more than 795,000 Americans experience a stroke and about 610,000 of these are new or first time strokes.
Around 87% of these stroke cases are ischemic strokes – this type of stroke is caused by blood flow being blocked from reaching the brain. Stokes also is the leading cause of long-term disabilities, half of those that survive strokes aged 65 or above are left with limited mobility. As these statistics show, strokes are a very serious health concern in our modern age.
Can Saunas Prevent Strokes?
There are multiple ways you can prevent or reduce the risks of a stroke, and one of them may be frequent visits to the sauna. Recent research studies have shown a correlation between sauna bathing and reducing the risks of strokes. After a 15-year follow-up study, a team of scientists from different universities across the globe has found some solid findings which were published to Neurology an American Academy of Neurology Journals. This is the first time a large-scale study was conducted on this topic.
The study consisted of 1,628 men and women aged 53 to 74 years that live in the eastern parts of Finland as the practice of sauna bathing originated in this region. The participants were divided into three groups based on their frequency of participating in traditional Finnish sauna baths. These three groups consisted of those who took sauna baths once a week, 2-3 times a week, and those who visited the saunas 4-7 times a week.
Throughout the 15-year study, 155 participants suffered from a stroke. The scientists discovered that those who took more sauna baths lowered their risks of developing a stroke by a large margin. Those who visited the saunas 2-3 times a week reduced their risks by about 14% versus those who only visited once a week. Those who took sauna baths 4-7 times in a week reduced the risks by a whopping 61% compared to 2-3 times a week.
The association was consistently strong between men and women and even when the scientists took account of the other different common stroke risk factors such as age, alcohol consumption, physical activity, body mass index, etc. The findings the researchers discovered are built upon previous studies on how saunas benefit the health of our bodies. Saunas are known to improve cardiovascular performance by helping blood vessels relax, making them less stiff and respond better to blood flow which in turn reduces the blood pressure.
There are various ways to help reduce the risks of strokes such as avoiding smoking, staying active and keeping a healthy weight, etc. Now you can add frequent visits to the sauna to the list. Not only will taking sauna baths help to reduce the risk of strokes but it will also improve cardiovascular performance to help ward off heart diseases, aid in muscle recovery after intense physical activities and reduce your overall stress by a lot.