Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Failure Health Center

Font Size

Warm Sauna May Help Treat Heart Failure

Study Shows Waon Therapy Helps Heart Failure Patients Live Longer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 2, 2008 (Chicago) -- Warm sauna treatments may be good for ailing hearts, Japanese researchers report.

In a study of 129 people with heart failure, the treatment, called Waon therapy, cut the risk of hospitalization or dying of heart disease by more than half.

The treatment is a lot cooler than a traditional steam sauna that reaches about 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

Under medical supervision, the patient lies on a bench in a 140 degree Fahrenheit, infrared dry sauna for 15 minutes. Infrared saunas use a special heater that generates infrared radiation similar to that produced by the sun.

Then, the patient is bundled in blankets to keep warm while resting on a bed outside the sauna for 30 minutes. Water is given throughout the process to maintain hydration.

The study involved patients taking standard medications for heart failure. Half were randomly assigned to receive Waon treatments at least twice a week.

Over the next five years, 31.3% of those given Waon therapy had to be rehospitalized for heart failure or died of heart disease vs. 68.7% in the non-Waon therapy group.

Waon therapy is not available in the U.S., according to Yoshiyuki Ikeda, MD. Ikeda, a fellow in the department of cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic medicine at Kagoshima University in Kagoshima, Japan, led the study. He reported the findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

Waon Therapy Relaxes Blood Vessels

Heart failure happens when the heart's weak pumping action causes a buildup of fluid in the lungs and other body tissues. The major cause of heart failure is a heart attack or coronary artery disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

The warm sauna helps blood vessels to relax, facilitating the flow of blood from the heart to other organs throughout the body, Ikeda says.

"That's what many of the heart medications do," he tells WebMD.

Previous research has shown that Waon therapy can also help correct irregular heart rhythms and improve heart disease symptoms, Ikeda says.

AHA spokesman Russell Luepker, MD, of the University of Minnesota, says that he's not convinced the warm treatments made the patients better.

Today on WebMD

Compressed heart
Salt Shockers
Inside A Heart Attack
lowering blood pressure

Mechanical Heart
Omega 3 Overview Slideshow
Atrial Fibrillation Guide
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol

Compressed heart
FAQ Heart Failure
Cholesterol Confusion
Health Check
Resolved To Quit Smoking