Regular hot bathing reduces the risk of heart disease

Research by Japanese scientists has shown that the more people take baths, the better for the health of the cardiovascular system. An article was published in Heart magazine.

Hot water bathing is believed to be beneficial for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) as it increases the volume of shocks and cardiac output and reduces the overall peripheral resistance of blood vessels. It also helps to improve the quality of sleep and the self-image of health.

However, so far there has been no consensus on what long-term effects regular bathing has on heart health and how it affects the risk of heart attack, stroke or death from them. 

Japanese scientists received data on more than 61,000 middle-aged adults (45-59 years old), which were part of a major national health surveillance study. In 1990, about 43,000 participants completed a questionnaire that summarized information on lifestyle, including the number of baths per week, as well as other factors that could affect heart health, such as physical activity, nutrition, bad habits, body mass index, sleep quality, chronic diseases, medication, etc. Each participant was monitored until 2009.

As a result, the researchers received data on 31,000 people. During this period, 2097 cardiovascular events occurred in this group: 275 heart attacks, 53 sudden cardiac arrests, and 1769 strokes.

After the specialists corrected all the factors, they found that a daily hot bath reduces the overall risk of cardiovascular disasters by 28%, stroke alone by 26%, heart attack alone by 23% and intracranial hemorrhage by 46%. In addition, frequent bathing was also associated with a reduced probability of hypertension.

The researchers were also interested in what water temperature could be more beneficial to the heart. Having analyzed the available information, they concluded that bathing in warm water reduces the risk by 26% and in hot water by 35%. 

The researchers explain the beneficial effect of bathing in hot water on the heart by the fact that the effect is similar to that of physical activity because it promotes the development of heart function. External heat exposure increases body temperature, heart contractility, heart rate, blood flow and more.

And yet this study has several limitations. First, it is observational in nature and does not establish strict causal links. Secondly, it does not take into account possible changes in the habits of the participants, hence there may be differences with reality in the number of baths taken. Third, it does not take into account the level to which the body should be immersed in the bath, because some studies show that the beneficial effects can occur from dive to the right atrial level.

In addition, the editorial accompanying the study points to an increased risk of mortality from too hot baths. Sudden deaths from overheating are common in Japan, and it is estimated that about 19,000 people die there, three times more than from car accidents.

March 25, 2020, 12:10 p.m.

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