Can saunas reduce high blood pressure?

May 30 | Tom Harvey

Researchers have found that regular sauna bathing has been linked to lowering blood pressure, so it’s a viable option for people diagnosed with hypertension. Longer exposure to high temperatures can cause your blood vessels to dilate, which lowers blood pressure over time.

High blood pressure can put a strain on your blood vessels, as well as your heart, brain, kidneys, and even eyes. Persistent high blood pressure can cause a number of dangerous health conditions, which is why treatments are often readily available. However, some people choose to use lifestyle changes to manage their blood flow and their symptoms rather than opting for medication right away, and sauna bathing can be a great option.

You should always consult a healthcare professional before undergoing lifestyle changes for high or low blood pressure, to make sure it’s both beneficial and safe. Check with your doctor before taking the plunge into the sauna to reduce blood pressure.

How many saunas promote lower blood pressure?

Almost all saunas promote lower blood pressure as they heat the body enough to force the vessels to constrict, managing the flow of blood through smaller passageways. Even infrared saunas, which are known for surrounding you with lower heat, can promote lower blood pressure. This is due to the visible and non-visible infrared light penetrating the skin to raise the body temperature from within.

Traditional saunas also promote the reduction of blood pressure by surrounding you with intense heat to restrict the blood vessels effectively. Traditional saunas expose your body to heat between an average of 45 °C and 100 °C, introducing the body to a mild state of hyperthermia.

What are some of the potential cardiovascular health benefits of sauna use?

Lowers blood pressure

The increase in your body temperature can restrict the size of your blood vessels, only allowing so much blood to flow through at once. This can lower your blood pressure for up to 120 minutes after exposure, which can give you a break from the common hypertension symptoms.

Helps keep your heart healthy

Not only can sauna sessions lower your hypertension to take some pressure off your heart, but they can also help you relax. Some research has even been done to find that relaxing in a sauna can prevent heart attacks and strokes, simply because of the reduction of stressors.

It’s also been implied that sauna bathing can reduce the levels of cortisol in your body, preventing you from dealing with too much of the stress hormone. This can even help you get a better night’s sleep, which has been linked to keeping the heart healthy.

Reduces arterial stiffness

There has been some research suggesting that with regular sauna use, people can experience less stiffness in the arteries. Since arterial stiffness has been associated with the development of cardiovascular disease in adults, this is just another health benefit that regular sauna bathing may offer.

Incentivises exercise

Exercise is often the best way to lower high blood pressure, but it’s not always high on people’s to-do lists. While it might help reduce blood pressure, some are nervous about starting an exercise regime. Others simply don’t think they’ll enjoy it. Adding a post-exercise sauna bath to your routine might make you more likely to stick to your workout plan.

Plus, you may get the benefits of both exercise and sauna bathing in terms of high blood pressure. It’s a win-win!

Allows you to relax

Hypertension can be stressful, especially with the symptoms and increased monitoring. A lovely sauna session can both help with symptoms and management, as well as give you a break from the stress that comes with it.

Scientific evidence and findings on the impact saunas have on blood pressure

A study of 16 patients suffering from untreated high blood pressure found that a sauna session had a positive effect on hypertension after exercise, at both 15 minutes and 24 hours after the sauna bath. However, this study also found that a sauna session on its own had minimal effects on hypertension symptoms. Sauna baths were safe and tolerated by patients, so the study concluded that they might be beneficial in other indirect ways to improve high blood pressure.

Another study found that regular sauna bathing is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease as a result. While they needed more data to draw a conclusion between cardiovascular disease and sauna bathing, they were confident that it reduced hypertension in patients.

Are there any potential risks or precautions to consider?

As with anything cardiovascular-related, you should talk to a professional before making lifestyle changes in the hope of improving hypertension. Some people may have higher risk factors for using saunas, such as age and other areas of health, which makes the risks outweigh the benefits.

One study found that acute sauna bathing didn’t lead to a reduction of hypertension in its participants, but rather an increase. So, while many find sauna sessions to be an effective method of reducing high blood pressure, it’s not a foolproof fix.

How often should you consider using a sauna to reduce blood pressure?

It’s recommended that you use sauna bathing 4 to 7 times a week to reduce blood pressure. These sessions should be around 15 minutes to be effective.

With that being said, it’s recommended that you gradually improve your tolerance for sauna use to prevent heat stroke or stress. Start with shorter sessions of 5 minutes only a couple of times a week before slowly increasing duration and frequency.

Our in-house experts’ tips for using a sauna to help with lowering blood pressure

Tom Harvey, co-founder and co-director of TH7

Final thoughts

There’s plenty of research to suggest that regular sauna usage can reduce high blood pressure. This is due to the heat exposure dilating the blood vessels so only so much blood can move through them at one time, lowering its pressure.

However, there is also research to suggest it’s not the most effective method of reducing hypertension to healthy blood pressure levels, so weigh up the benefits before deciding if it’s right for you.

Even if sauna sessions aren’t the most effective method of reducing hypertension, most people find them safe and relaxing with no adverse effects, making them a much-needed stress reliever.