Objectives: In the present study, the reaction of blood pressure and heart rate are examined during and after a single acute sauna application.
Design: In 19 healthy adult volunteers (7 women, aged 46.4±10.2 years, BMI 24.4±2 kg /m2), blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were measured during a 25-minute sauna session (93°C, 13 % humidity) and during a subsequent 30-minute rest period. The parameters obtained were compared with the BP and HR responses during submaximal dynamic exercise testing.
Results: The heat exposure resulted in a significant (p<0.01) and progressive increase in systolic and diastolic BP. After the sauna bath, BP decreased and showed significantly (p<0.001) lower values compared to baseline. HR also increased continuously during heat application (p<0.001), resulting in a significant increase (p<0.001) in systolic BP x HR as a measure of myocardial oxygen consumption. After the end of the sauna session, both the BP and the HR decreased steadily (p<0.001).When comparing BP and HR during the sauna session with the reaction during a dynamic exercise test, sauna bathing was equivalent to an exercise load of about 60-100 watts.
Conclusions: Contrary to popular belief, acute sauna use does not lead to a reduction, but to an increase in BP and HR with a consequent increase in myocardial oxygen consumption. The cardiac load during the sauna use corresponds to a moderate physical load of 60-100 watts.
Keywords: Blood pressure; Cardiac responds; Exercise testing; Heart rate; Sauna bathing.
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