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.