Sauna bathing reduces the risk of venous thromboembolism: a prospective cohort study

Setor K Kunutsor, Timo H. Mäkikallio, Hassan Khan, Tanjaniina Laukkanen, Jussi Kauhanen, Jari Antero Laukkanen

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Emerging evidence suggests there is an inverse and independent association between sauna bathing and arterial thrombotic disease. However, the potential association between sauna bathing and venous thromboembolism (VTE) has not yet been investigated. We aimed to assess the prospective association between frequency of sauna bathing and the risk of VTE. Baseline sauna bathing habits were assessed in 2,242 men aged 42-61 years without a history of VTE in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease prospective cohort. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for VTE. During a median follow-up of 24.9 years, 146 (6.5%) incident VTE events were recorded. There was a curvilinear shape to the association between frequency of sauna bathing and VTE risk. In age-adjusted analyses, the HRs 95% (CIs) of VTE were 0.67 (0.47-0.96) and 0.95 (0.53-1.70) for participants who had 2-3 and ≥ 4 sauna sessions per week respectively compared with participants who had ≤ 1 sauna session per week. After further adjustment for body mass index, systolic blood pressure, prevalent coronary heart disease, smoking status, history of diabetes, total cholesterol, lipid medication, total physical activity, alcohol consumption, socioeconomic status, prevalent cancer, and high sensitivity C-reactive protein, the corresponding HRs (95% CIs) were 0.67 (0.46 to 0.96) and 0.92 (0.51-1.68) respectively. Having sauna baths was associated with a reduced risk of VTE in a middle-aged male Caucasian population. Further studies in other populations and age groups are required to confirm these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Early online date1 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Aug 2019


  • sauna
  • venous thromboembolism
  • cohort study

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