High blood pressure is a robust predictor of future incidence of stroke, coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and cardiovascular-related death. Men who report using the sauna regularly tend to have lower blood pressure. Sauna's beneficial effects on blood pressure may be due to a variety of mechanisms, including regulation of the autonomic nervous system and improved endothelial function and arterial compliance. In this clip, Dr. Jari Laukkanen describes some of the mechanisms that drive healthy blood pressure among men who use the sauna regularly.
Rhonda: I've done some reading on how the sauna affects different vascular functions, but you're a cardiologist, so do you have some sort of...do you speculate on some of the mechanisms by which using the sauna can improve cardiovascular health?
Jari: Yeah. Yeah, we have been studying also these mechanisms, which can be explained to our findings. And one of the most important is the blood pressure because sauna use, long-term sauna use, can decrease blood pressure level. Actually, we have studied in the same population and found that there is a reduction of incident hypertension among those who are using more sauna compared to those who have only, let's say, one session per week. And so blood pressure is really one of the most important factors which can explain the findings.
Rhonda: And do you know why sauna lowers blood pressure? Do you?
Jari: There may be many reasons. We know that it can balance the autonomic nervous system as well and, also, it can improve the vessel function.
Rhonda: Endothelial cells?
Jari: Yeah, endothelial cells. And another thing is that sauna may have some effect on arterial stiffness, and compliance of arteries can improve after long-term sauna use.
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 division of the peripheral nervous system that influences the function of internal organs. The autonomic nervous system regulates bodily functions that occur below the level of consciousness, such as heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal. It is the primary mechanism in control of the fight-or-flight response and the freeze-and-dissociate response.
The single layer of cells that lines the interior of the blood and lymphatic vessels. The endothelium participates in blood flow, platelet aggregation, and vascular tone. It also regulates inflammation, immune function, and angiogenesis. Endothelial dysfunction is a systemic pathological condition broadly defined as an imbalance between vasodilating and vasoconstricting substances produced by (or acting on) the endothelium. It is a robust predictor of heart attack and stroke risk.
High blood pressure. Hypertension, defined as a systolic pressure of 130 mm Hg or higher, or a diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg or higher, is a robust predictor of future incidence of stroke, coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and cardiovascular-related death. Central to the pathophysiology of hypertension is the loss of arterial compliance, which can have far-reaching effects on multiple organ systems, including the brain and kidneys.
An essential mineral present in many foods. Iron participates in many physiological functions and is a critical component of hemoglobin. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, fatigue, shortness of breath, and heart arrhythmias.
A chemical reaction in which an atom, molecule, or ion gains one or more electrons.
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