Saunas and Blood Pressure: Do Saunas Help With High Blood Pressure?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, weekly use of the sauna reduces the risks of fatal heart problems and promotes a longer life. But does that mean that bathing in a sauna is good for people with high blood pressure?
Luckily, saunas are completely safe to use if you have high blood pressure or another cardiovascular disease. Yet, you must be aware of a few precautionary measures first so as not to expose your body to too much heat, as this can have adverse effects.
In this article, we explore the benefits of saunas for people with high blood pressure as well as how to bathe in one safely.
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Let’s dive in!
How Do Saunas Help With High Blood Pressure?
Bathing in a sauna on a regular basis can be incredibly beneficial for people who have risk factors for heart disease. A study has confirmed that repeated thermal therapy is good for lowering blood pressure, not to mention that it helps people with high cholesterol and diabetes.
But what exactly gives the sauna this power?
It’s all about how the higher temperature inside the sauna affects the blood vessels. See, when your body is exposed to heat for a decent amount of time periodically, the ability of your blood vessel walls to expand and contract will increase.
This means that saunas help reduce arterial stiffness.
Plus, there was another research done on people who bathed in a sauna once for 30 minutes to understand the effects on their blood pressure.
Researchers made sure to include individuals who had at least one risk factor for heart disease, and they recorded their blood-based parameters before and after entering the sauna.
The results show that the mean blood pressure has decreased amongst changes in other blood-related biomarkers that support the belief that saunas are great for heart health.
Because of all these fascinating findings, scholars conclude that saunas can help with the following conditions:
Congestive heart failure
Peripheral artery disease
Left ventricular dysfunction
Ischemic heart disease
Safety Measures to Keep in Mind for Bathing in a Sauna if You Have High Blood Pressure
Ready to hop into your home sauna or drive to your nearest spa for a soothing sauna session? Even if it’s completely safe to do so if you have high blood pressure, you still have to follow a few measures to ensure you’re on the risk-free side of things!
1. Consult Your Physician First
Remember that we all aren’t built the same way. Despite the earlier studies that we cited, some individual differences may prevent certain people from liberally using the sauna as they see fit.
This is why we advise you not to use the sauna before asking your physician whether or not they recommend it. Sauna bathing may not work well with the condition of your health, or your doctor might give you specific guidelines to follow to keep risks at bay.
In addition, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction if you take medications, as these can affect your health negatively when combined with sauna bathing.
2. Don’t Spend Too Much Time Inside a Sauna
Usually, your healthcare provider will suggest you don’t spend more than 15 to 20 minutes inside the sauna. Not only will that make your heart work much harder than it’s used to, but it might also cause dehydration.
Instead, you can start at 15 to 20 and build your endurance from there gradually but don’t exceed 45 minutes.
3. Make Sure the Temperature Is Right
Again, don’t expose your body to very high temperatures because you don’t want your heart rate to rise dramatically. To make things clear, the earlier studies mentioned in this article are all about the benefits of saunas for blood pressure only in the 140F to 180F range.
Therefore, make sure you don’t venture into temperatures higher than 180F.
While we don’t strongly recommend it, you can bathe in saunas that have a temperature of 200F to 215F. Yet, you should only stay there for a maximum of ten minutes!
4. Avoid Sudden Changes in Temperature
Lastly, it’s best to steer clear of exposing your body to drastic shifts in temperature to avoid problems with your arteries.
Don’t leave the hot sauna and immediately step into a room with the AC on full blast or take a dip in a pool then walk straight into a sauna or steam room.
If you must, do it gradually by first spending a few minutes in a changing room to allow your body to regulate its temperature.
Can People With Low Blood Pressure Use the Sauna?
It’s not the wisest idea for a person with low blood pressure to sit in a sauna, or any place with high heat, for an extended amount of time.
As we’ve already pointed out, saunas cause your blood pressure to drop by making the blood vessels all over your body dilate. So, a person who already has low blood pressure might find it difficult to maintain a steady blood flow to the brain inside a sauna.
More often than not, this may lead to lightheadedness, then soon after, fainting.
If you absolutely want to, we advise you to reduce your time inside the sauna so that it’s no more than 15 minutes. Also, stay well-hydrated by continuously sipping from a water bottle while you’re bathing in a sauna.
But again, if you notice any signs of trouble, don’t hesitate to leave the room mid-session to get some fresh air.
To Wrap It Up
Besides all their impressive benefits to our health, it’s a delight to know that traditional and infrared saunas can be advantageous for people with high blood pressure, too.
You only have to take a few precautions before using the sauna. These safety measures include not turning the heat up too high, not spending too long inside, and most importantly, reaching out to your doctor to be extra sure that it’s safe to bathe in a sauna!