Hot Tubs and Strokes

Deanne Stein Health Guide September 11, 2006
  • What a difference the change of the month makes. We suffered through blistering hot days and then I turned the calendar to September and the cool fronts moved in. It reminds me that fall is just around the corner.

    Since we have so many cool months here in West Virginia and short summers, my husband and I opted for a hot tub instead of the pool. But moving to our new house in the summertime, we just haven’t been in the mood to hook it up. Now, with the temperatures in the 60’s at night, I actually put a call in to the electrician.

    I also bought a hot tub because I got hooked on it at my parent’s house. It’s so relaxing, although I had to watch the temperature with my dad. He likes the water way too hot for me. I did have a little scare in one though following my stroke.

    Right after my stroke, I moved back in with my parents during my rehabilitation and recovery. My doctor told me sitting in a hot tub would be fine as long as I only sat in it for about 10 to 15 minutes and kept it below 103 degrees.

    I believe it was a little too hot, but I only sat in it for a short time. I felt a little dizzy and got out. After I stepped out of the tub, I noticed my right arm went numb and I could hardly move it. I was so terrified that I was having another stroke because it was the same symptom I was having the day of my real stroke.

    Luckily, I wasn’t having a stroke. After an hour or so, it went away. But I did immediately call my doctor about it. He explained that my body was just so weak from my stroke. The hot tub relaxed my muscles even further, giving me that illusion of a having a stroke symptom. I know now that I rushed it by getting into the hot tub too soon after my stroke. Plus, the water was too hot.

    According to the American Stroke Association, hot tubs and saunas aren’t a risk to healthy people. Even people with high blood pressure should be okay as well, as long as they have no symptoms. The heat actually relaxes the blood vessels the same as they would during a brisk walk. So, if you have to avoid moderate exercise because it results in chest pains or shortness of breath, you should also avoid a hot tub or sauna. Also, moving back and forth between cold-water pools and hot tubs can raise blood pressure. Obviously, if you have high blood pressure, don’t do this.

    The elderly and those suffering from heart disease, diabetes, high or low blood pressure and those on medication should not use hot tubs.

    Sitting in a hot tub dilates blood vessels, raises body temperature, lowers blood pressure or raises blood pressure depending on the individual. All of these factors have significant effects on the disorders listed above. In reference to elderly people, they are more susceptible to lowered blood pressure and subsequent fainting due to the potential loss of elasticity of their blood vessels. Lowered blood pressure stresses the heart as the heart works harder to bring blood pressure up to a good level. Lowered blood pressure and blood vessel dilation have a significant effect on how your body absorbs medication.

  • I’m looking forward to using my hot tub, but only in moderation and with a safe temperature.

    High Blood Pressure:

    http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=2114

    Hot tub safety:

    http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5112.html

    American Heart Association:

    http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=584