Sauna bathing reduces the risk of stroke in Finnish men and women: A prospective cohort study

Setor Kunutsor, Hassan Khan, Francesco Zaccardi, Tanjaniina Laukkanen, Peter Willeit, Jari A Laukkanen

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Abstract

Objective: We aimed to assess the association between frequency of sauna bathing and risk of future stroke. Methods: Baseline habits of sauna bathing were assessed in 1628 adult male and females aged 53 to 74 years (mean age, 62.7 years) without a known history of stroke in the Finnish Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease prospective cohort study. Three sauna bathing frequency groups were defined: 1, 2-3 and 4-7 sessions per week. Hazard ratios (HRs) (95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated for incident stroke. Results: During a median follow-up of 14.9 years, 155 incident stroke events were recorded. Compared with participants who had one sauna bathing session per week, the age and sex-adjusted HR (95% CIs) for stroke was 0.39 (0.18 to 0.83) for participants who had 4-7 sauna sessions per week. After further adjustment for established cardiovascular risk factors and other potential confounders, the corresponding HR (95% CIs) was 0.39 (0.18 to 0.84) and this remained persistent on additional adjustment for physical activity and socio-economic status 0.38 (0.18 to 0.81). The association between frequency of sauna bathing and risk of stroke was not modified by age, sex and other clinical characteristics (p for interaction > 0.10 for all subgroups). The association was similar for ischemic stroke; but modest for hemorrhagic stroke, which could be attributed to the low event rate (n=34). Conclusions: This long-term follow-up study shows that middle-aged to elderly men and women who take frequent sauna baths have a substantially reduced risk of new-onset stroke.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1937-e1944
Number of pages8
JournalNeurology
Volume90
Issue number22
Early online date2 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2018

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