Scientists have found that the dry heat of a sauna can actually prolong life for middle-aged men, cutting their risk of a heart attack by up to 63 per cent. The authors from University of Eastern Finland said those who had used saunas regularly seem to have been protected from heart problems. The risk of sudden cardiac death was found to be 22 per cent lower for men who had two to three sauna sessions per week and 63 per cent lower for those visiting a sauna four to seven times a week. A similar pattern was seen for coronary heart disease, with two to three sessions reducing the risk of death by 23 per cent and four to seven sessions by 48 per cent. Cardiovascular disease death rates were cut by 27 per cent when men made two to three visits and by 50 per cent when they made four to seven. Participants also benefited if they spent longer in the sauna. Compared with men staying hot for less than 11 minutes, those whose sessions lasted 11 to 19 minutes were 7 per cent less likely to suffer a sudden cardiac death while more than 19 minutes was associated with a 52 per cent reduced risk. Previous studies have shown that saunas can lower your blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, assist diabetes and lung conditions, and even fight off the common cold and help combat anorexia. Some athletes use saunas to increase their endurance by expanding their oxygen capacity, red blood cell count and plasma volumes. And plunging into a cold pool after a sauna can build up the body’s antioxidant powers and boost the immune system.