European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 34, Issue 10, pp 983–986 | Cite as

Sauna bathing reduces the risk of venous thromboembolism: a prospective cohort study

  • Setor K. KunutsorEmail author
  • Timo H. Mäkikallio
  • Hassan Khan
  • Tanjaniina Laukkanen
  • Jussi Kauhanen
  • Jari A. Laukkanen


Emerging evidence suggests there is an inverse and independent association between sauna bathing and arterial thrombotic disease. However, the potential association between sauna bathing and venous thromboembolism (VTE) has not yet been investigated. We aimed to assess the prospective association between frequency of sauna bathing and the risk of VTE. Baseline sauna bathing habits were assessed in 2242 men aged 42–61 years without a history of VTE in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease prospective cohort. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for VTE. During a median follow-up of 24.9 years, 146 (6.5%) incident VTE events were recorded. In age-adjusted analyses, the HRs 95% (CIs) of VTE were 0.67 (0.47–0.96) and 0.95 (0.53–1.70) for participants who had 2–3 and ≥ 4 sauna sessions per week respectively compared with participants who had ≤ 1 sauna session per week. After further adjustment for several established risk factors including lifestyle factors, the corresponding HRs (95% CIs) were 0.67 (0.46–0.96) and 0.92 (0.51–1.68) respectively. Having sauna baths was associated with a reduced risk of VTE in a middle-aged male Caucasian population. Further studies in other populations and age groups are required to confirm these findings.


Sauna bathing Venous thromboembolism Cohort study 



We thank the staff of the Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine and the Research Institute of Public Health and University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland for the data collection in the study.


Prof. Laukkanen acknowledges support from The Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research, Helsinki, Finland. Prof. Mäkikallio and Dr. Kunutsor acknowledge support from the Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland via the Finnish Governmental Research Funding (VTR). Dr. Kunutsor acknowledges support from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health and Social Care. These sources had no role in design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research CentreUniversity Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and University of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Musculoskeletal Research Unit, Translational Health Sciences, Bristol Medical SchoolUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal MedicineOulu University HospitalOuluFinland
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, Division of CardiologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  5. 5.Institute of Public Health and Clinical NutritionUniversity of Eastern FinlandKuopioFinland
  6. 6.Faculty of Sport and Health SciencesUniversity of JyväskyläJyvaskylaFinland
  7. 7.Central Finland Health Care District Hospital DistrictJyvaskylaFinland

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