Saunas have been used for relaxation, weight loss and relief of stress. They have shown to lower blood pressure, temporarily. Most doctors say that the use of a sauna does not harm people with normal blood pressure. However, research has shown that the effects of a sauna's high temperature can be harmful to those with high blood pressure and heart problems.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is diagnosed when your systolic pressure is above 140 routinely or your diastolic pressure is above 90. If not treated properly with diet, exercise and medications, hypertension It can lead to serious complications such as damage to the arteries, heart, kidneys and eyes. Since high temperatures can have unpredictable effects on blood pressure, people with hypertension should consult a doctor before using a sauna.
Saunas use dry or wet heat to raise the user's skin temperature above 103° F, according to Harvard Men's Health Watch. This alteration in the temperature of the skin promotes sweating, elimination of toxins through the skin, an elevated heart rate and low blood pressure. Many people report feeling relaxed and clean after a session in the sauna.
For a healthy adult the reduction in blood pressure is a temporary reaction to the increase in skin temperature. When a healthy person leaves the sauna, his pressure returns to normal. People with hypertension also experience this temporary low blood pressure, but after leaving the sauna their pressure can behave abnormally, sometimes increasing dramatically.
The use of the sauna should be limited to 20 minutes or less, according to Harvard Men's Health Watch. It is important to drink several glasses of water after leaving the sauna, as the average user loses a pint of sweat during a session. You should never use the sauna only, during or after drinking alcoholic beverages or using drugs or when you are sick. Although people with controlled hypertension can use the sauna without negative effects, people with unstable hypertension should consult their doctor before experiencing such a sudden and intense change in temperature.
People with uncontrolled or unstable hypertension who use a sauna without their doctor's approval can have serious complications, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Given the unpredictable reaction of blood pressure to the sudden change in temperature, entering a sauna can cause blood pressure to rise during or after a session.High blood pressure for prolonged periods can cause vision problems, memory loss, kidney damage, heart failure, stroke or aneurysm, according to the American Heart Association.