ORIGINAL RESEARCH| Volume 34, ISSUE 2, P113-118, 2010

Do Far-infrared Saunas Have Cardiovascular Benefits in People with Type 2 Diabetes?

  • Richard Beever
    Faculty of Medicine, Department of Family Practice Box 98, Fraser Lake, British Columbia, Canada V0J 1S0 Tel: (250) 6996225, Fax: (250) 6996510
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Clinical Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia
    Search for articles by this author



      Far-infrared saunas are beneficial for the treatment of congestive heart failure, hypertension and obesity. As such, they may have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular (CV) health in those with type 2 diabetes. Our objective is to examine whether or not there are quantitative CV benefits from infrared sauna use.


      The intervention consisted of 20-minute, thriceweekly infrared sauna sessions, over a period of 3 months. The following CV risk factors were measured: weight, height, waist circumference, blood pressure (BPtru), glycated hemoglobin (A1C), fasting blood glucose and cholesterol profile. Baseline study parameters were measured within one week prior to commencing sauna sessions. Post-intervention measurements were collected between 1 and 3 days after the last sauna session.


      Systolic blood pressure decreased by 6.4 mm Hg (124±12 vs. 118±15 mm Hg, 95% CI 0.01-12.71 p=0.05), and there was a trend toward decreased waist circumference (115.0±13.4 vs. 112.7±11.9 cm, 95% CI 0.4-5.1 p=0.10). All other measurements did not change significantly. There were no adverse events. Study completion rate was 75%.


      Our results suggest that infrared sauna use may be beneficial for lowering blood pressure and waist circumference. Subject adherence to infrared sauna use is greater than adherence to other lifestyle interventions. The combination of favourable compliance/adherence, as well as effectiveness in improving blood pressure and possibly waist circumference, makes infrared sauna therapy an attractive lifestyle option.



      Les saunas à infrarouge lointain sont utiles pour le traitement de l'insuffisance cardiaque congestive, de l'hypertension et de l'obésité. Il se pourrait donc qu'ils aient un effet salutaire sur la santé cardiovasculaire des personnes atteintes de diabète de type 2. Notre objectif était de déterminer si l'utilisation d'un sauna à infrarouge avait des bienfaits quantitatifs sur la santé cardiovasculaire.


      L'intervention consistait en l'utilisation d'un sauna à infrarouge pendant 20 minutes trois fois par semaine pendant une période de trois mois. On a mesuré objectivement les facteurs de risque cardiovasculaire suivants : poids, taille, tour de taille, tension artérielle (tensiometre BPtru), hémoglobine glycosylee (HbA1c), glycémie à jeun et bilan du cholésterol. Les valeurs de départ ont ete obtenues dans la semaine précédant la première utilisation du sauna et les valeurs finales, d'un à trois jours après la dernière utilisation du sauna.


      La tension arterielle systolique a baissé de 6,4 mm Hg (124±12 par rapport à 118±15 mm Hg; p=0,05, IC de 95 % : 0,01 a 12,71) et il y a eu une tendance à la réduction du tour de taille (115,0±13,4 par rapport à 112,7±11,9 cm; p=0,10, IC de 95 % : 0,4 à 5,1). Les autres paramètres n'ont pas changé de façon significative. Il n'y a pas eu d'effets indésirables. Soixante-quinze pour cent des sujets ont terminé l'étude.


      Les résultats obtenus donnent à penser que l'utilisation d'un sauna à infrarouge pourrait contribuer à la réduction de la tension artérielle et du tour de taille. Les sujets sont plus fidèles à l'utilisation d'un sauna à infrarouge qu'a d'autres interventions axées sur le mode de vie. Ensemble, la fidélité a l'utilisation d'un sauna a infrarouge et l'efficacite de celui-ci pour la réduction de la tension artérielle et, possiblement, du tour de taille font de l'utilisation d'un sauna a infrarouge une option thérapeutique attrayante.



      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Canadian Journal of Diabetes
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Emili A.
        • Abushomar H.
        • Nair K.
        Treating metabolic syndrome: lifestyle change or medication?.
        Can Fam Physician. 2007; 53: 1203-1205
        • Hoeg J.M.
        Evaluating coronary heart disease risk: tiles in the mosaic.
        JAMA. 1997; 277: 1387-1390
        • Advertisement: Physician Heal Thyself Soleil Sauna
        Just for Canadian Doctors.
        2006 (Winter:2.)
        • Masuda A.
        • Kihara T.
        • Fukudome T.
        • et al.
        The effects of repeated thermal therapy for two patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
        J Psychosom Res. 2005; 58: 383-387
        • Masuda A.
        • Koga Y.
        • Hattanmura M.
        • et al.
        The effects of repeated thermal therapy for patients with chronic pain.
        Psychother Psychosom. 2005; 74: 288-294
        • Kihara T.
        • Biro S.
        • Ikeda Y.
        • et al.
        Effects of repeated sauna treatment on ventricular arrhythmias in patients with chronic heart failure.
        Circ J. 2004; 68: 1146-1151
        • Sugahara Y.
        • Ishii M.
        • Muta H.
        • et al.
        Efficacy and safety of thermal vasodilation therapy by sauna in infants with severe congestive heart failure secondary to ventricular septal defect.
        Am J Cardiol. 2003; 92: 109-113
        • Miyamoto H.
        • Kai H.
        • Nakamura H.
        • et al.
        Safety and efficacy of repeated sauna bathing in patients with chronic systolic heart failure: a preliminary report.
        J Card Fail. 2005; 11: 432-436
        • Nguyen Y.
        • Naseer N.
        • Frishman W.H.
        Sauna as a therapeutic option for cardiovascular disease.
        Cardiol Rev. 2004; 12: 321-324
        • Kihara T.
        • Biro S.
        • Imamura M.
        • et al.
        Repeated sauna treatment improves vascular endothelial and cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure.
        J Am Coll Cardiol. 2002; 39: 754-759
        • Masuda A.
        • Miyata M.
        • Kihara T.
        • et al.
        Repeated sauna therapy reduces urinary 8-epi-prostaglandin F(2alpha).
        Jpn Heart J. 2004; 45: 297-303
        • Imamura M.
        • Biro S.
        • Kihara T.
        • et al.
        Repeated thermal therapy improves impaired vascular endothelial function in patients with coronary risk factors.
        J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001; 38: 1083-1088
        • Biro S.
        • Masuda A.
        • Kihara T.
        • et al.
        Clinical implications of thermal therapy in lifestyle-related disease.
        Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003; 228: 1245-1249
        • Beever R.
        Far-infrared saunas for treatment of cardiovascular risk factors: summary of published evidence.
        Can Fam Physician. 2009; 55: 691-696
        • Gerstein H.C.
        • Meltzer S.
        Preventive medicine in people at high risk for chronic disease: the value of identifying and treating diabetes.
        CMAJ. 1999; 160: 1593-1595
        • Kaur J.
        • Singh P.
        • Sowers J.
        Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
        Am J Ther. 2002; 9: 510-515
        • Mattu G.S.
        • Heran B.S.
        • Wright J.M.
        Overall accuracy of the BpTRU-an automated electronic blood pressure device.
        Blood Press Monit. 2004; 9: 47-52
        • Beckett L.
        • Godwin M.
        The BpTRU automatic blood pressure monitor compared to 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in the assessment of blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
        BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2005; 5: 18
        • Greiver M.
        Improving diabetes care in my practice.
        Can Fam Physician. 2007; 53: 1897
        • Hannuksela M.L.
        • Ellahham S.
        Benefits and risks of sauna bathing.
        Am J Med. 2001; 110: 118-126
        • Judge C.M.
        • Chasan-Taber L.
        • Gensburg L.
        • et al.
        Physical exposures during pregnancy and congenital cardiovascular malformations.
        Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2004; 18: 352-360
        • Kauppinen K.
        Facts and fables about sauna.
        Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1997; 813: 654-662
        • Jones H.
        • Ruggiero L.
        • Edwards L.
        Diabetes stages of change. Methodology and study design.
        Can J Diabetes Care. 2001; 25: 97-107
        • Gaede P.
        • Videl P.
        • Larsen N.
        • et al.
        Multifactorial intervention and cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.
        N Engl J Med. 2003; 348: 383-393
        • Harris S.B.
        • Petrella R.J.
        • Lambert-Lanning A.
        • et al.
        Lifestyle management for type 2 diabetes. Are family physicians ready and willing?.
        Can Fam Physician. 2004; 50: 1235-1243
        • Snow V.
        • Weiss K.B.
        • Mottur-Pilson C.
        Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians. The evidence base for tight blood pressure control in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
        Ann Intern Med. 2003; 138: 587-592
        • Vajan S.
        • Hayward R.A.
        Treatment of hypertension in type 2 diabetes mellitus: blood pressure goals, choice of agents, and setting priorities in diabetes care.
        Ann Intern Med. 2003; 138: 593-602
        • UK Prospective Diabetes Study Group
        Intensive blood-glucose control with sulphonylureas or insulin compared with conventional treatment and risk of complications in patients with type 2 diabetes (UKPDS 33).
        Lancet. 1998; 352: 837-853
        • Padwal R.
        • Campbell N.
        • Touyz R.M.
        Canadian Hypertension Education Program. Applying the 2005 Canadian Hypertension Education Program recommendations: 3. Lifestyle modifications to prevent and treat hypertension.
        CMAJ. 2005; 173: 749-751
        • Quan A.
        • Kerlikowske K.
        • Gueyffier F.
        • et al.
        Efficacy of treating hypertension in women.
        J Gen Intern Med. 1999; 14: 718-729
        • Bhavnani S.
        • Nicholls S.
        • Shi H.
        • et al.
        Clinical benefit of intensive blood pressure lowering in obese patients with coronary artery disease. A Camelot substudy.
        J Clin Hypertens. 2007; 9: 66
        • Lackland D.T.
        • Gilbert G.
        • Carter R.
        • et al.
        Long-term survival by hypertension status for white and black men and women.
        J Clin Hypertens. 2007; 9: 137
        • Staessen J.A.
        • Wang J.G.
        • Thijs L.
        What can be expected from optimal blood pressure control?.
        J Hypertens Suppl. 2003; 21: S3-9
        • Sigal R.J.
        • Kenny G.
        Physical activity: 2003 clinical practice guidelines highlights.
        Canadian Diabetes. 2005; 18 (2,3,7)
        • Kopelman P.G.
        Obesity as a medical problem.
        Nature. 2000; 404: 635-643
        • World Health Organization
        Obesity and Overweight.
        Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. WHO, Geneva2005
        • Lau D.C.
        • Douketis J.D.
        • Morrison K.M.
        et al; Obesity Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Panel. 2006 Canadian clinical practice guidelines on the management and prevention of obesity in adults and children [summary].
        CMAJ. 2007; 176: S1-13
        • Tjepkema M.
        Adult Obesity in Canada: Measured Height and Weight.
        ON: Statistics Canada, Ottawa2005
        • Kato J.
        • Eto T.
        • Kitamura K.
        Importance of body weight control and commitment by physicians in controlling blood pressure: a community-based observational study.
        J Clin Hypertens. 2007; 9: 134
        • Foreyt J.P.
        The role of lifestyle modification in dysmetabolic syndrome management.
        Nestle Nutrition Workshop Series Clinical and Performance Program. 2006; 11: 197-206
        • Douketis J.D.
        • Feightner J.W.
        • Attia J.
        • et al.
        Periodic health examination, 1999 update: 1. Detection, prevention and treatment of obesity. Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.
        CMAJ. 1999; 160: 513-525
        • Marshall K.
        Mosby's Family Practice Sourcebook - Evidence Based Emphasis.
        in: ON: Mosby, Inc, Toronto2001: 326-329
        • Canadian Diabetes Association
        Diabetes facts: the prevalence and costs of diabetes.
        (Available at:)
        • Knowler W.C.
        • Barrett-Connor E.
        • Fowler S.E.
        • et al.
        Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin.
        N Engl J Med. 2002; 346: 393-403
        • Argani H.
        • Javanshir M.R.
        Seasonal variations of blood pressure in hemodialysis and renal transplant recipients.
        Transplant Proc. 2004; 36: 148-149
        • Woodhouse P.R.
        • Khaw K.T.
        • Plummer M.
        Seasonal variation of blood pressure and its relationship to ambient temperature in an elderly population.
        J Hypertens. 1993; 11: 1267-1274