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Neurology. 2018 May 29;90(22):e1937-e1944. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005606. Epub 2018 May 2.

Sauna bathing reduces the risk of stroke in Finnish men and women: A prospective cohort study.

Author information

1
From National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (S.K.K.), University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and University of Bristol, UK; Translational Health Sciences (S.K.K.), Bristol Medical School, Southmead Hospital, University of Bristol, UK; Division of Cardiology (H.K.), Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Diabetes Research Centre (F.Z.), Leicester General Hospital, University of Leicester, UK; Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition (T.L., J.A.L.), University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio; Department of Public Health and Primary Care (P.W.), University of Cambridge, UK; Department of Neurology (P.W.), Medical University Innsbruck, Austria; Department of Internal Medicine (J.A.L.), Central Finland Hospital District, Jyväskylä; and Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences (J.A.L.), University of Jyväskylä, Finland. skk31@cantab.net.
2
From National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (S.K.K.), University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and University of Bristol, UK; Translational Health Sciences (S.K.K.), Bristol Medical School, Southmead Hospital, University of Bristol, UK; Division of Cardiology (H.K.), Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Diabetes Research Centre (F.Z.), Leicester General Hospital, University of Leicester, UK; Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition (T.L., J.A.L.), University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio; Department of Public Health and Primary Care (P.W.), University of Cambridge, UK; Department of Neurology (P.W.), Medical University Innsbruck, Austria; Department of Internal Medicine (J.A.L.), Central Finland Hospital District, Jyväskylä; and Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences (J.A.L.), University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the association between frequency of sauna bathing and risk of future stroke.

METHODS:

Baseline habits of sauna bathing were assessed in 1,628 adult men and women aged 53-74 years (mean age, 62.7 years) without a known history of stroke in the Finnish Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease prospective cohort study. Three sauna bathing frequency groups were defined: 1, 2-3, and 4-7 sessions per week. Hazard ratios (HRs) (95% confidence intervals [CIs]) were estimated for incident stroke.

RESULTS:

During a median follow-up of 14.9 years, 155 incident stroke events were recorded. Compared with participants who had one sauna bathing session per week, the age- and sex-adjusted HR (95% CI) for stroke was 0.39 (0.18-0.83) for participants who had 4-7 sauna sessions per week. After further adjustment for established cardiovascular risk factors and other potential confounders, the corresponding HR (95% CI) was 0.39 (0.18-0.84) and this remained persistent on additional adjustment for physical activity and socioeconomic status at 0.38 (0.18-0.81). The association between frequency of sauna bathing and risk of stroke was not modified by age, sex, or other clinical characteristics (p for interaction > 0.10 for all subgroups). The association was similar for ischemic stroke but modest for hemorrhagic stroke, which could be attributed to the low event rate (n = 34).

CONCLUSIONS:

This long-term follow-up study shows that middle-aged to elderly men and women who take frequent sauna baths have a substantially reduced risk of new-onset stroke.

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