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Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2016 Apr;23(6):593-601. doi: 10.1177/2047487315594506. Epub 2015 Jul 7.

Acute effects of Finnish sauna and cold-water immersion on haemodynamic variables and autonomic nervous system activity in patients with heart failure.

Author information

1
Division of Cardiovascular Prevention, Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, Department of Cardiology, Bern University Hospital and University of Bern, Switzerland.
2
Berner Reha Zentrum, Heiligenschwendi, Switzerland.
3
Division of Cardiovascular Prevention, Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, Department of Cardiology, Bern University Hospital and University of Bern, Switzerland jean-paul.schmid@spitalnetzbern.ch.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The haemodynamic response to Finnish sauna and subsequent cold-water immersion in heart failure patients is unknown.

METHODS:

Haemodynamic response to two consecutive Finnish sauna (80℃) exposures, followed by a final head-out cold-water immersion (12℃) was measured in 37 male participants: chronic heart failure (n = 12, 61.8 ± 9.2 years), coronary artery disease (n = 13, 61.2 ± 10.6 years) and control subjects (n = 12, 60.9 ± 8.9 years). Cardiac output was measured non-invasively with an inert gas rebreathing method prior to and immediately after the first sauna exposure and after cold-water immersion, respectively. Blood pressure was measured before, twice during and after sauna. The autonomic nervous system was assessed by power spectral analysis of heart rate variability. Total power, low-frequency and high-frequency components were evaluated. The low frequency/high frequency ratio was used as a marker of sympathovagal balance. Sauna and cold-water immersion were well tolerated by all subjects.

RESULTS:

Cardiac output and heart rate significantly increased in all groups after sauna and cold-water immersion (p < 0.05), except for coronary artery disease patients after sauna exposure. Systolic blood pressure during sauna decreased significantly in all groups with a nadir after 6 min (all p < 0.05). Cold-water immersion significantly increased systolic blood pressure in all groups (p < 0.05). No change in the low/high frequency ratio was found in chronic heart failure patients. In coronary artery disease patients and controls a prolonged increase in low frequency/high frequency ratio was observed after the first sauna exposure.

CONCLUSIONS:

Acute exposure to Finnish sauna and cold-water immersion causes haemodynamic alterations in chronic heart failure patients similarly to control subjects and in particular did not provoke an excessive increase in adrenergic activity or complex arrhythmias.

KEYWORDS:

Heat exposure; cardiac output; cold-water immersion; heart failure; sympathetic nervous system activity

PMID:
26152773
DOI:
10.1177/2047487315594506
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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