Sexual activity poses exceedingly small risk in causing sudden cardiac arrest

Frederick Owens
November 14, 2017

Many men with heart disease fear that having sex could kill them, but new research shows the danger is slight.

A USA study of sudden cardiac arrests found only a third of cases that occurred during sex received "bystander CPR".

Most of the cases were men with a history of heart disease.

More than 4,500 cases since 2002 were examined as part of the study, and only 34 cases occurred during or within an hour of engaging in sex.

During intimacy died from cardiac arrest 30 people, 15 of them felt unwell after sex.

The data, recorded from paramedic notes as part of a long-running study on sudden unexpected deaths found more than half of these happened (55 per cent) during sex, while the rest occurred within 15 minutes.

About one in 1,000 women will experience sudden cardiac arrest during sexual activity and compared to one in 100 for men.

The experts claimed that despite the myth that sex might cause a heart attack, especially in older men, this is not the case. All reported cases were based on emergency medical service reports containing detailed information regarding the cause of the cardiac arrest.

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The safety of sex comes up from time to time with patients who've suffered a heart attack or have been diagnosed with a heart problem, Goldberg and Gulati said.

Compared with others who had sudden cardiac arrest, people with an arrest associated with sexual intercourse were more likely to be male (94 percent).

Patients who experienced sudden cardiac arrest linked to sexual activity had higher rates of ventricular fibrillation - a serious cardiac rhythm disturbance - and tachycardia, a higher-than-normal heart rate.

Almost 20 percent of the sex-related hearts attack patients survived, compared to just 12.9 percent of those whose heart attacks weren't linked to sex.

A research letter published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology said that only a very tiny number of heart attacks have something to do with sex.

The scientists also found that in about two-thirds of the cases, even though a partner was there during the cardiac arrest, that partner did not perform CPR on the victim.

"This highlights the importance of continued efforts to educate the public on the importance of CPR, no matter the circumstance", Chugh said.

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