Dr. Jari Laukkanen on Sauna Use for the Prevention of Cardiovascular & Alzheimer’s Disease
Posted on June 15th 2017 (10 months)
This podcast features Jari Laukkanen, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist and scientist at the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio. Dr. Laukkanen has been conducting long-term trials looking at the health effects of sauna use in a population of over 2,000 middle-aged men in Finland. The results? Massive reductions in mortality and memory disease in a dose-dependent fashion at 20-year follow-up.
A-beta (amyloid-beta 42)
A toxic 42 amino acid peptide that aggregates and forms plaques in the brain with age and is associated with Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of premature senility. **Heat shock proteins have been shown to inhibit the early aggregation of amyloid beta 42 and reduce amyloid beta plaque toxicity**.  Wu, Yanjue, et al. "Heat shock treatment reduces beta amyloid toxicity in vivo by diminishing oligomers." _Neurobiology of aging_ 31.6 (2010): 1055-1058.
All of the deaths that occur in a population, regardless of the cause.
A protein abundant in the human brain and found mainly at the tips of nerve cells at the presynaptic terminals. Aggregation of alpha-synuclein occurs in Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system that involves loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and leads to impaired motor control. In 2013, PD was present in 53 million people and resulted in about 103,000 deaths globally. **Hsp70, a heat shock protein, has been shown to reduce formation of alpha-synuclein oligomers and reduce associated toxicity**.  Danzer, Karin M., et al. "Heat-shock protein 70 modulates toxic extracellular α-synuclein oligomers and rescues trans-synaptic toxicity." _The FASEB journal_ 25.1 (2011): 326-336.
An index of the elasticity of large arteries such as the thoracic aorta. Arterial compliance is an important cardiovascular risk factor which diminishes as a function of age and systolic blood pressure. Arterial compliance is measured by ultrasound as a pressure (carotid artery) and volume (outflow into aorta) relationship.
A disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of plaques of fatty material on their inner walls. Something is said to be **atherogenic** when it promotes the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries. _Atherosclerosis causes **coronary artery disease**._
Autonomic Nervous System
A division of the peripheral nervous system that influences the function of internal organs, and acts largely unconsciously to regulate bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal. **It is also the primary mechanism in control of the fight-or-flight response and the freeze-and-dissociate response.**
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
One of the most active of a family of proteins known as neurotrophins which help to control and stimulate neurogenesis, the growth of new neurons. BDNF is important for long-term memory, is active in the hippocampus, cortex, basal forebrain, and its production has been shown to be robustly increased by exercise. **Additionally, exercise in combination with heat stress has been shown to increase BDNF more effectively than exercise alone**.  Goekint, Maaike, et al. "Influence of citalopram and environmental temperature on exercise-induced changes in BDNF." _Neuroscience letters_ 494.2 (2011): 150-154.
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
A large class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels, including stroke, hypertension, thrombosis, heart failure, atherosclerosis, and more. It is thought that up to 90% of cardiovascular disease is preventable.  McGill, Henry C., C. Alex McMahan, and Samuel S. Gidding. "Preventing heart disease in the 21st century." _Circulation_ 117.9 (2008): 1216-1227.
In statistics, a confounder (also confounding variable or confounding factor) is a variable that is correlated (directly or inversely) to both the dependent variable and independent variable.
Coronary artery disease (CAD)
also known as ischemic heart disease (IHD). a group of diseases that includes: stable angina, unstable angina, myocardial infarction, and sudden cardiac death. In 2015 CAD affected 110 million people and resulted in 8.9 million deaths. **It makes up 15.9% of all deaths making it the most common cause of death globally.**
Describes the change in effect on an organism caused by differing levels of exposure (or doses) to a stressor. Studying dose response, and developing dose–response models, is central to determining "safe", "hazardous" and (where relevant) beneficial levels and dosages for drugs, pollutants, foods, and other substances to which humans or other organisms are exposed.
The lining of the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, which forms an interface between circulating blood or lymph in the lumen and the rest of the vessel wall. Endothelial dysfunction is a systemic pathological state of the endothelium broadly defined as an imbalance between vasodilating and vasoconstricting substances produced by (or acting on) the endothelium. This is a major physiopathological mechanism that leads towards coronary artery disease, and other atherosclerotic diseases.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
The physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats. It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval. Decreased parasympathetic nervous system activity or increased sympathetic activity will result in reduced HRV. Reduced HRV has been shown to be a predictor of mortality after myocardial infarction, and a range of other outcomes/conditions may also be associated.  Kleiger, Robert E., et al. "Decreased heart rate variability and its association with increased mortality after acute myocardial infarction." _The American journal of cardiology_ 59.4 (1987): 256-262.
Heat Shock Protein (HSP)
A family of proteins that are produced by cells in response to exposure to stressful conditions. They were first described in relation to heat shock but are now known to also be expressed during other stresses including exposure to cold, UV light, and during wound healing or tissue remodeling. Many members of this group perform chaperone function by stabilizing new proteins to ensure correct folding or by helping to refold proteins that were damaged by the cell stress. **A 30-minute 73ºC sauna session in healthy young adults has been shown to cause a robust and sustained increase in the production of heat shock proteins for up to 48 hours afterward**.  Iguchi, Masaki, et al. "Heat stress and cardiovascular, hormonal, and heat shock proteins in humans." _Journal of athletic training_ 47.2 (2012): 184-190.
The term for generally-favorable biological responses to low exposures to toxins or other stressors such as exercise, heat stress, fasting, and **xenohormetics**, which are molecules, including plant polyphenols, which are produced in response to stress experienced by plants and some evidence suggests may have longevity-conferring effects. Compounds like polyphenols themselves similarly are beneficial, in part, because they trigger mild cellular stress that induces beneficial stress response pathways.
Hypertension Also known as high blood pressure. Long term high blood pressure is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss, and chronic kidney disease. About 90–95% of cases are primary, defined as high blood pressure due to nonspecific lifestyle and genetic factors. The remaining 5–10% of cases are categorized as secondary high blood pressure, defined as high blood pressure due to an identifiable cause, such as chronic kidney disease, narrowing of the kidney arteries, an endocrine disorder, or the use of birth control pills. Lifestyle factors that are known to increase the risk include excess salt, excess body weight, smoking, and alcohol.
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)
One of the most potent natural activators of the AKT signaling pathway, stimulator of cell growth and proliferation, potent inhibitor of programmed cell death, primary mediator of the effects of growth hormone, and has been implicated in contributing to aging and enhancing the growth of cancer after it has been initiated. Similar in molecular structure to insulin, IGF-1 plays a role during childhood for growth and continues later in life to have anabolic, as well as neurotrophic effects. Protein intake increases IGF-1 levels in humans, independent of total caloric consumption.
The steam that rises from the sauna stove (kiuas) or the heat of the sauna.
The 3-dimensional structure of a protein. The structure of a protein is determined by its amino acid constituents, the interaction of its amino acids with each other, and the interaction of its amino acid constituents with the environment surrounding the protein. The conformation then determines how the protein functions and how long its half-life is.
Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)
Chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen, which are generated by oxidative phosphorylation, as well as immune activation and can damage cells (including lipids, proteins, mitochondria and DNA). **Reactive Nitrogen Species** are another type of damaging byproduct that is produced naturally by the immune system. The two species are often referred to collectively as **ROS/RNS**. Examples of ROS include: peroxides, superoxide, hydroxyl radical, and singlet oxygen. RNS are produced in animals starting with the reaction of nitric oxide with superoxide to form peroxynitrite. Preventing and efficiently repairing damage from ROS (**oxidative stress**) and RNS (**nitrosative stress**) is one of the key challenges our cells face in their fight against diseases of aging, including cancer.
Sudden cardiac death
Death from a sudden stop in effective blood flow due to the failure of the heart to contract effectively (known as **cardiac arrest**). Some people may have chest pain, shortness of breath, or nausea before this occurs. The average percentage of people who survive cardiac arrest with treatment is about 8%. Sudden cardiac death accounts for about 15% of all death in Western countries.
An endogenous opioid neuropeptide used as an analgesic in the body to numb or dull pains that has also been implicated in thermoregulatory mechanisms, increasing significantly in response to heat stress. Endorphin is a contraction of "endogenous" and "morphine." On a molar basis, the analgesic potency of its effects are up to 33-times more potent than morphine. Both morphine and β-Endorphin act on the μ-opioid receptor. Interestingly, the hormonal milieu involved in the bodily response to hyperthermic stress is impaired to varying degrees in a variety of substance abuse conditions, including alcoholism, heroin, and cocaine addiction.  Ježová, Daniela, et al. "Rise in plasma β-endorphin and ACTH in response to hyperthermia in sauna." Hormone and Metabolic Research 17.12 (1985): 693-694.  Loh, Horace H., et al. "Beta-endorphin is a potent analgesic agent." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 73.8 (1976): 2895-2898.  Vescovi, P. P., et al. "Hyperthermia in sauna is unable to increase the plasma levels of ACTH/cortisol, ß-endorphin and prolactin in cocaine addicts." Journal of endocrinological investigation 15.9 (1992): 671-675.
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