Systemic thermal therapy, such as taking a warm-water bath and sauna, induces systemic vasodilation. It was found that repeated sauna therapy (60 degrees C for 15 min) improved hemodynamic parameters, clinical symptoms, cardiac function, and vascular endothelial function in patients with congestive heart failure. Vascular endothelial function is impaired in subjects with lifestyle-related diseases, such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and smoking. Sauna therapy also improved endothelial dysfunction in these subjects, suggesting a preventive role for atherosclerosis. In animal experiments, sauna therapy increases mRNA and protein levels of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in aortas. In normal-weight patients with appetite loss, repeated sauna therapy increased plasma ghrelin concentrations and daily caloric intake and improved feeding behavior. In obese patients, the body weight and body fat significantly decreased after 2 weeks of sauna therapy without increase of plasma ghrelin concentrations. On the basis of these data, sauna therapy may be a promising therapy for patients with lifestyle-related diseases.
Biro S, Masuda A, Kihara T, Tei C. Clinical implications of thermal therapy in lifestyle-related diseases. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003 Nov;228(10):1245-9. doi: 10.1177/153537020322801023. PMID: 14610268.