Whole body cryotherapy (WBC) in a cryo-chamber as a medical treatment was first established in Japan in the 1980s, later in Central Europe, and is now becoming more popular also in the United States. The exposure to extreme, non-physiological environmental conditions in a cryo-chamber at -110 °C may exceed the normal adaption capacity. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of WBC on blood pressure (BP) readings in adult subjects with rheumatic disorders and normal or moderately elevated BP. A sample of 23 subjects (8 female, 15 male) which were recruited according to their pathology between the age of 35 and 69 years undergoing 21 WBC applications was divided into three groups: a group of subjects with anti-hypertensive therapy, a group of subjects with mild arterial hypertension without medical treatment, and a normotensive control-group. A total of 483 BP readings were taken immediately before and after each WBC application. The systolic and diastolic BP were recorded, and the mean arterial pressure, and the amplitude of BP were calculated. A statistically significant rise of BP after WBC was found in the whole sample and in the normotensive group. Over the course of time, no significant change of BP behavior was observed, except for normotensive subjects, who showed a wider range in their systolic BP values. Generally accepted exclusion criteria were applied, and in our sample group WBC was safe with respect to unwanted BP alterations for adult subjects under 70 years-regardless of a pre-existing untreated mild or pharmacologically treated arterial hypertension. Greater changes of BP values might infrequently occur, so an individual monitoring of subjects is necessary.
Keywords: Arterial hypertension; Blood pressure; Blood pressure response; Cryo-chamber; Whole body cryotherapy; −110 °C.