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Safety and Efficacy of Repeated Sauna Bathing in Patients With Chronic Systolic Heart Failure: A Preliminary Report

      Abstract

      Background

      We sought to determine the safety and efficacy of repeated 60°C sauna bathing in patients with chronic systolic congestive heart failure (CHF).

      Methods and Results

      This study included 15 hospitalized CHF patients (New York Heart Association class = 2.8 ± 0.4) in stable clinical condition on conventional treatments. Sauna bathing was performed once per day for 4 weeks. Repeated sauna bathing was safely completed without any adverse effects in all patients. Symptoms improved in 13 of 15 patients after 4 weeks. Sauna bathing decreased systolic blood pressure without affecting heart rate, resulting in significant decrease in the rate-pressure product (6811 ± 1323 to 6292 ± 1093). Echocardiographic left ventricular ejection fraction was significantly increased from 30 ± 11 to 34 ± 11%. Sauna bathing significantly improved exercise tolerance manifested by prolonged 6-minute walking distance (388 ± 110 to 448 ± 118 m), increased peak respiratory oxygen uptake (13.3 ± 1.8 to 16.3 ± 2.1 mL/kg/min), and enhanced anaerobic threshold (9.4 ± 1.2 to 11.5 ± 1.9 mL/kg/min). Four-week bathing significantly reduced plasma epinephrine (40 ± 42 to 21 ± 23 pg/mL) and norepinephrine (633 ± 285 to 443 ± 292 pg/mL). Sauna bathing reduced the number of hospital admission for CHF (2.5 ± 1.3 to 0.6 ± 0.8 per year).

      Conclusion

      Repeated 60°C sauna bathing was safe and improved symptoms and exercise tolerance in chronic CHF patients. Sauna bathing may be an effective adjunctive therapy for chronic systolic CHF.

      Key Words

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