Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

How heart-stopping is sex, really?

How heart-stopping is sex, really?

"For the last two decades we've been working on how to predict and prevent sudden cardiac arrest".

Research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017 contradicts a TV and movie myth that having sex is a common trigger for myocardial infarction or cardiac arrest.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is similar to a heart attack, but the terms aren't quite interchangeable because the physiology behind them isn't the same. The demographic most likely to suffer SCA from sex appeared to be middle-aged, African-American males with a history of heart disease, probably already taking heart medication.

The good news is that heart attacks during sex are still rare.

It also found that sudden fatal heart attacks among people with a pre-existing heart condition were not significantly more likely to be triggered by sex. 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. Previous studies have looked at sex and heart attacks, but those are caused by a clot suddenly restricting blood flow, and people usually have time to get to a hospital and be treated, said Dr. Sumeet Chugh, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.

The study hence concludes that 1% of the cardiac arrest happens because of sex in men where the percentage is 0.1% in women.


But of these more than half happened during sex.

African Americans comprised 7.8 percent of the sudden cardiac arrests in the study, but nearly 19 percent of the sexual activity-related cardiac arrests.

A senior author of the study tells that 10 percent or less then that had survived in case of cardiac arrest in the US.

Almost 20 percent of the sex-related sudden cardiac arrest patients survived compared to just 12.9 percent of the non-sexual activity-related patients. Even though all the cases of SCA the researchers included were brought on by partnered sex-meaning, they were all witnessed by someone-in only one-third of them did that partner attempt CPR.

Researchers said the findings may help inform discussions between doctors and patients on the safety of sexual activity and highlight the need to educate the public on the importance of CPR for sudden cardiac arrest.

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