Infrared Sauna Therapy and Chronic Heart Failure (CHF)
A controlled case study has been conducted to clinically approve the safety and efficacy of Waon therapy (using a far infrared sauna) on chronic heart failure patients (CHF) by the Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Metabolic Medicine, Graduated School of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Japan. The official paper was released in August 2008. The study took a group of 188 CHF sufferers and treated them with standard therapy for at least 1 week. From the group of 188 patients 112 of them were randomly grouped to receive far infrared sauna Waon therapy. The remaining 76 were grouped together to continue their treatment from conventional treatment techniques and were called the ‘Control’ group. All patients in the control group received conventional CHF treatment for an additional 2 weeks while the far infrared sauna Waon therapy group were treated daily with a far infrared sauna at 60 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes, and were then kept in bed with a blanket for 30 minutes, for two weeks.
What is Waon Therapy?
According to Kagoshima University Faculty of Medicine, Waon therapy is defined as, ‘therapy in which the entire body is warmed in an evenly heated chamber (device) for 15 minutes at a temperature that soothes the mind and body, and after the deep-body temperature has increased by approximately 1.0~1.2°C, the soothing warmth effects are sustained by maintaining the warmth at rest for an additional 30 minutes, with fluids corresponding to perspiration being supplied at the end.’
What is Heart Failure?
Heart failure is different to cardiac arrest. It is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body, which is usually caused by the structure or function of the heart.
Image: Illustration above shows some of the symptoms of chronic heart failure. (Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)
Before the treatment, echocardiography, chest radiography and plasma levels of the brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) were measured. The same tests were also conducted 2 weeks after the treatment had concluded.
Results of the Study: (please see glossary at the bottom of the page for definitions of terminology)
NYHA functional classification: The results of the far infrared heat therapy, and conventional treatment were both very positive with NYHA functional classification (see definition at bottom of page). NYHA functional classification significantly decreased after the 2 weeks in both groups.
Chest Radiography - The results from the chest radiography (chest x-ray: see bottom of page for definitions of terminology) from both the infrared sauna treated and conventionally treated groups also showed a significant decrease in their cardiothoracic ratio (The diameter of the heart compared to that of the thoratic cage, which shows whether the heart has changed in size).
Technical data from chest radiography - (Waon therapy: 57.2+/-8.0% to 55.2+/-8.0%, p<0.0001; control: 57.0+/-7.7% to 56.0+/-7.1%, p<0.05).
Echocardiography – The results from the ultrasound showed that the diastolic dimension (LVDd) of the left ventricle, the ejection fraction (EF) and the left atrial dimension (LAD) improved significantly in the Waon therapy group who were treated for 15 minutes per day in the far infrared sauna for 2 weeks. Technical echocardiography data from the far infrared sauna Waon therapy group - (LVDd: 60.6+/-7.6 to 59.1+/-8.4mm, p<0.0001; LAD: 45.4+/-9.3mm to 44.1+/-9.4mm, p<0.05; EF: 31.6+/-10.4% to 34.6+/-10.6%, p<0.0001).
On the other hand, the Control group who were treated using conventional techniques did not show significant improvements. Technical echocardiography data from the controlled group - (LVDd: 58.4+/-10.3mm to 57.9+/-10.4mm; LAD: 46.3+/-9.7mm to 46.2+/-10.1mm; EF: 36.6+/-14.1% to 37.3+/-14.0%).
Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) – The concentration of the plasma of BNP decreased significantly in the Waon therapy group who were using the far infrared saunas, however the concentration didn’t decrease significantly in the control group. Technical BNP data for the far infrared sauna Waon therapy and Control group - (Waon: 542+/-508pg/ml to 394+/-410pg/ml, p<0.001; control: 440+/-377pg/ml to 358+/-382pg/ml).
The Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Metabolic Medicine, Graduated School of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Japan came to the conclusion that Waon therapy using far infrared saunas is safe. The results have shown to improve clinical symptoms and cardiac function in the tested CHF patients. By using the far infrared sauna for just 15 minutes every day, followed by a 30 minute bed rest with a blanket, for 2 weeks has shown to decrease the cardiac size in CHF patients.
The conclusion of the research showed that, ‘Waon therapy is an innovative and promising therapy for patients with CHF.’
Disclaimer: If you suffer from CHF or any other medical condition, it is important to consult your medical physician before using any sauna, infrared sauna or steam room.
Glossary of Terminology
Chest Radiography – This is simply an x-ray of the chest. Medical professionals will be able to determine the size and shape of the heart as well as the size and shape of the large arteries.
Cardiothoracic Ratio - The diameter of the heart compared to that of the thoratic cage. Measurements are gathered from a chest radiography.
Echocardiography – Also known as cardiac ECHO or cardiac ultrasound is a sonogram of the heart which uses standard ultrasound methodologies to image two-dimensional slices of the heart.
Diastolic - is the time of when the heart is in a period of relaxation to expansion (dilation).
Ejection Fraction (EF) - is the fraction of blood ejected by the ventricle relative to its end-diastolic volume. Ejection fraction may be 20% or less in very bad cases of heart failure.
Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) – This is a which is released in response to excessive stretching of the heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes).
NYHA Functional Classification for Congestive Heart Failure - NYHA is an acronym standing for ‘The New York Heart Association’ Functional Classification. The NYHA Functional Classification provides a straightforward way of classifying heart disease.
- Beneficial effects of Waon therapy on patients with chronic heart failure: Results of a prospective multicenter study.
- J Cardiol. 2008 Oct;52(2):79-85. Epub 2008 Aug 27, Miyata M, Kihara T, Kubozono T, Ikeda Y, Shinsato T, Izumi T, Matsuzaki M, Yamaguchi T, Kasanuki H, Daida H, Nagayama M, Nishigami K, Hirata K, Kihara K, Tei C.
Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Metabolic Medicine, Graduated School of Medicine, Kagoshima University, 8-35-1 Sakuragaoka, Kagoshima 890-8520, Japan.
- Definitions - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003804.htm
- Richard E. Klabunde, Ph.D. http://www.cvphysiology.com/Cardiac%20Function/CF012.htm
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