Are Hot Tubs Safe for People with Treated Hypertension?

January 20, 2010

Canadian researchers asked the question: Are hot tubs safe for people being treated for hypertension?

Their study results published in the Canadian Journal of Medicine are very interesting.

BACKGROUND: People with hypertension are commonly warned to check with a physician before using a hot tub, but there is little in medical literature on which to base this advice.  The authors compared symptoms, heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure in response to 10 minutes of hot-tub immersion in a group of patients with treated hypertension and in a control group without hypertension.

STUDY METHOD: Researchers recruited 21 patients (18 men and 3 women aged 43-76 years) with stable, treated hypertension and 23 control subjects (14 men and 9 women aged 19-83 years) without hypertension. They were studied, in mid-afternoon, at a public hot tub facility. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate were measured at baseline, during immersion in a hot tub at 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) and for 10 minutes after immersion.  Each subject was asked to report any symptoms.

RESULTS: None of the subjects reported dizziness, chest pain or palpitations. During immersion, systolic blood pressure fell in both groups, from a mean 144 mm HG to 122 mm HG in the hypertensive group and from 130 mm HG to 110 mm Hg in the control group.  Blood pressure returned to baseline within 10 minutes after the subjects left the hot tub. Diastolic blood pressure also fell, whereas heart rate was increased in both groups. The hypertensive group showed a slightly lower maximal increase in heart rate than the group without hypertension.

INTERPRETATION: Immersion in a hot tub for 10 minutes lowers blood pressure in subjects with treated hypertension, but no more than in control subjects without hypertension.  Their conclusion: spending 10 minutes in a hot tub should be safe for most treated hypertensive patients.

Study authors: Shin TW, Wilson M, Wilson TW. Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology and the Cardiovascular Risk Factor Reduction Unit, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.

It is always advisable to check with your own physician, if you have any medical issues for which  you think hot tubbing would not be beneficial.

SANUM PER AQUA. Latin for Health through Water.

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