Recently, a new study conducted by researchers at Minia University, in Egypt in collaboration with seven other research institutes in Japan, looks at the association between taking hot baths or showers and lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
According to the findings of the study, the seemingly casual relationship between the two is not yet verified since the research was observational. However, researchers add that further investigation can possibly discover an underlying mechanism explaining the link.
Cardiovascular disease refers to the range of heart-related conditions that include congenital heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, pulmonary embolism, cerebrovascular heart disease, coronary artery disease, and many more.
At the moment, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. The statistics from the World Health Organization show that heart disease is responsible for over seventeen million deaths around the world.
This means that nearly thirty-one percent of the deaths are a consequence of having a heart-related condition. Eighty-five percent of these deaths occur due to experiencing a heart attack.
On the other hand, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a person loses their life to a cardiovascular issue every forty-seven seconds in the United States and around 647,000 people die annually due to heart disease in the US alone.
The vast majority of the deaths occurring due to having heart disease are deemed as ‘premature’ which means that the people who have passed away because of the condition were under the age of seventy.
In addition, health experts have noted that cardiovascular conditions are becoming more and more common in both younger populations and older adults.
This is why there is ongoing research on understanding the mechanism behind various heart conditions and developing preventive methods as well as treatments.
In the new study, whose findings appear in the journal Heart, the researchers were interested in testing a hypothesis on heat exposure and a reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The researchers explain in the paper in the words “Heat exposure increases core body temperature, cardiac contractility, heart rate, and blood flow, and decreases vessel endothelial shear stress,”
Tomohiko Ukai from the Osaka Prefectural Institute of Public Health and Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, in Japan leads the study and explains further that “These effects are similar to the impact of exercise and are believed to improve vascular function over the long term.”
To reach these findings, the researchers analyzed data of over sixty thousand participants, all of whom were between the ages of forty-nine to fifty-nine, from the Japan Public Health Center-based Study Cohort I.
During the study period, which lasted from 1990 to 2009, 2,097 deaths occurred as a result of developing heart disease or experiencing a cardiovascular event.
275 of the reported deaths were due to having a heart attack, 53 occurred due to having a sudden cardiac arrest, and 1,769 happened because of having a stroke.
Using the provided data, the team discovered that the participants who took a hot bath frequently had a twenty-eight percent reduced risk of developing heart disease, and twenty-six percent lower chances of having a stroke than those who took a shower twice or once per week.
Even after looking at potential confounding factors, the results of the study remained that same.
However, the researchers agree that further investigation is required on the matter and the study may just be beginning in understanding underlying mechanisms behind a higher heat exposure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Till then, people with existent heart-related conditions and those who are at high risk of having cardiovascular disease or events should take preventive measures as per the instructions of their doctors.