If you’re anything like me, you love to be warm, and with warmth, often comes sweat. I moved from Pennsylvania to south Florida a few years back and I don’t think I’ve stopped sweating since. The combination of an active lifestyle, hot and humid weather year-round, and my love of saunas has kept a healthy lather of liquid sitting on my skin nearly every day. I don’t hate it – actually I love it! Often after my exercise session at the gym, I’ll spend another 10-15 minutes in the sauna getting my final sweat in because I find it relaxing and I assume it’s beneficial. But is it really? I think at this point, we all know exercise is beneficial for so many reasons that this article isn’t going to cover. However, what about the sauna? Does regular usage of the sauna have ACTUAL health benefits? As always, let’s dive into some research and see what the science says.
Let’s start by stating something that probably isn’t anything new to you: heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and has been for a long time. In 2016, the CDC reported that heart disease killed 635,260 people. Heart disease includes several types of heart conditions such as coronary artery disease and heart attacks. Many related conditions may contribute to heart disease, one of which is termed the “silent killer”, high blood pressure. Over 75 million American adults have high blood pressure, which is about 1 in every 3 adults and an additional 1 in 3 American adults have prehypertension. High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 410,000 Americans in 2014. 
Sustained hypertension may accelerate structural changes to the arterial wall, potentially increasing the stiffness or “compliance” of the vessels. Vascular compliance is the ability of the vessels to expand and contract when pressure changes. Arterial compliance is an independent predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in hypertensive patients. A main contributor to cardiovascular disease is a lack of arterial compliance or increased arterial stiffness. A measurement used to examine arterial compliance is called pulse wave velocity (PWV), which is a calculated by measuring the time it takes for a pressure pulse to travel between two set points. In patients with less arterial compliance, PWV increases, and in patients with increased compliance, PWV decreases.1 This means healthy arteries would show a smaller PWV measurement.JOIN NOW to continue reading...
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