Sauna bathing, a time-honored Finnish tradition, is widely recognized for its numerous health benefits. Backed by research, the benefits attributed to this tradition range from enhanced detoxification, bolstered cardiovascular health, to diminished stress levels. Nonetheless, the high-heat environment that is characteristic of saunas can potentially pose risks to individuals with certain health conditions.
Understanding high blood pressure in relation to sauna bathing
One key thing sauna lovers must note is the temporary surge in blood pressure that may occur during sauna bathing. As a result, those grappling with hypertension - or high blood pressure - should actively seek their healthcare provider's advice prior to enjoying a sauna session. Interestingly, in some cases, well-managed sauna use might just lend a hand in the improvement of blood pressure regulation. However, it's essential to remember that individual responses can significantly differ.
Can people with cardiac issues use saunas?
For individuals with specific heart conditions - notably unstable angina pectoris, recent myocardial infarction (a heart attack), or extreme aortic stenosis - sauna use generally is not recommended. This is chiefly due to the sauna's heat possibly leading to swift alterations in circulation, blood pressure, and heart rate, potentially exacerbating these conditions. Ergo, anyone with heart issues should schedule a medical consultation before incorporating sauna use into their routine.
What about those who have suffered a previous heart attack?
This was mentioned above, but it’s worth calling out again. Should individuals with a history of heart attacks use saunas? If this is you, before you dip a toe into a sauna, you must first obtain clearance from a healthcare provider. Some research hints at the therapeutic benefits of sauna bathing for cardiovascular health and heart disease, inclusive of individuals who've experienced a heart attack, such as one study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. However, these benefits could fluctuate greatly depending on an individual's overall health and recovery status.
Is sauna use safe for individuals with diabetes?
You might be wondering how people with diabetes fit into the sauna-use picture. As you might guess, due caution should be exercised here as well. Under high heat, adjustments in blood flow that could potentially impact blood sugar levels can occur. One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, showed sauna therapy demonstrated a positive short-term effect on blood glucose levels. However, the long-term implications of this are yet to be completely understood. Furthermore, people with diabetes often face the elevated risk of sensory neuropathy, which could lead to burn injuries amidst a hot environment due to diminished sensation. Consequently, those living with diabetes are highly encouraged to liaise with their healthcare provider before entering a sauna.
To wrap up, it's vivid that while saunas hold a lot of potential for health improvement, safety should be the topmost priority. This especially holds for those managing pre-existing health conditions. So, if you house any concerns about sauna use, please contact your doctor or seek professional medical advice.
 Kunutsor SK, Khan H, Zaccardi F, Laukkanen T, Willeit P, Laukkanen JA. Sauna bathing reduces the risk of stroke in Finnish men and women: A prospective cohort study. Neurology. 2018;90(22):e1937-e1944.
 Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2015). Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 542–548.