Short-term effects of Finnish sauna bathing on blood-based markers of cardiovascular function in non-naive sauna users

Setor K. Kunutsor, Arja Häkkinen, Francesco Zaccardi, Tanjaniina Laukkanen, Earric Lee, Peter Willeit, Hassan Khan, Jari A. Laukkanen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

6 Citations (Scopus)
253 Downloads (Pure)


Emerging evidence suggests that sauna bathing is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. However, the biochemical pathways by which sauna bathing might confer its effects on cardiovascular function are not certain. We aimed to study the acute effects of Finnish sauna bathing on various blood-based cardiovascular biomarkers. The study included 102 non-naive sauna users (54% male) with mean age of 51.9 years, who had at least one cardiovascular risk factor. Participants underwent a 30-minute single sauna session (mean temperature, 73°C). Biochemical profiling was conducted immediately after sauna and 30-minutes post sauna. Overall median N-terminal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) levels (n=20 participants) were 46.0 ng/l before sauna exposure, which increased to 50.5 ng/l immediately after sauna (median change, +12.00%; p<0.001) and remained persistent at 30 min post sauna (median change from pre-sauna to post-30 min sauna, +13.93%; p<0.001). The changes were more evident in males compared with females. There were no significant changes in overall levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein, creatine kinase, high sensitivity troponin I, and creatine kinase-MBm. However, levels of creatine kinase increased in males (median change, +2.99%; p=0.024). Levels of NT-proBNP increase after sauna exposure. The increase in levels of creatine kinase are more evident in males. Long-term interventional studies are warranted to evaluate if these biomarkers are involved in pathways underlying the associations of sauna bathing with cardiovascular outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalHeart and Vessels
Early online date3 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jul 2018


  • Sauna bathing
  • Experimental study
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Biomarkers


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