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Can a person with heart murmur go in for a dry heat sauna?

Q: I have a slight heart murmur. I think a dry heat sauna causes the body to work harder so will a dry heat sauna be safe for me to use?

A:Murmurs (sounds due to flow of blood across heart valves) are not normal in adults. So a Colour Doppler Echocardiogram is necessary to ascertain the cause of the murmur. Usually it is an innocuous mitral valve prolapse with minimum leak of the valve. It is usually non progressive. The only thing that you need to protect yourself is seeding of infection on these valves and report any fever of more than a few days to your doctor. You will need to take antibiotics before dental extractions and some other surgeries that lead to microorganisms entering your circulation. The murmurs due to mitral prolapse are very variable. They may be increased whenever blood pools in the extremities or blood vessels dilate or the heart beats faster as in a sauna. But this is not dangerous on the short or long run. If you however get palpitations with an avoidable activity you may try avoiding it. If you feel giddy with fast palpitations you should consult your doctor who may advise you a 24 hour home ECG recording to correlate it with your symptoms. On the whole if the echocardiogram is normal or has only mild mitral prolapse you have nothing to worry.

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