Good old soak on a cold day could be bad for the heart, study finds

26th April 2011

Stepping into a nice, long, relaxing bath after a day outside in the cold could cause heart problems, if the results of a Japanese study are to be believed.

Research conducted at the Kyoto Prefectural University found that the long-awaited soak at the end of the day could in fact lead to a heightened risk of heart attack, after scientists discovered that people were ten times as likely to suffer cardiac arrest in the bath during winter as summer.

Figures showed that there was a risk of heart problems for 54 in ten million people for every hour of bathing, compared to ten in ten million for every hour of exercising.

It is not clear what causes this, but scientists said that bathing causes a rapid drop in blood pressure, which can put stress on the heart.

Lead researcher Chika Nishiyama said: "Preventive approaches such as warming a bathroom and hallway or refraining from taking a deep, hot bath could be important for high risk people."

The findings are thought to be particularly relevant for the Japanese, who bathe frequently, both as part of a routine, and for spiritual cleansing reasons.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1. Chika Nishiyama. "Prognostic indicators and outcome prediction model for patients with return of spontaneous circulation from cardiopulmonary arrest: The Utstein Osaka Project." 11th April 2011. Resuscitation

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