Can sex really trigger cardiac arrest?

Two people are seen embracing Oct. 16 2004 in New York City

Some potential sexual partners might promise heart-stopping sex if you slip between the sheets with them, but a new study shows that's probably not going to happen.

The new study also falls in line with previous research on sex and heart attacks. The vast majority were male and were more likely to be middle-aged, African-American and have a history of cardiovascular disease.

"People will ask their doctors if sex increases their risk of sudden death, and we've never had the answer before because there never was a study", senior study author Dr. Sumeet Chugh, said a statement from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

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. "Now we can tell them the risk is very low".

Scientists did find, however, that certain characteristics seemed to correspond with those who had a heart attack under these circumstances.

Cardiac arrest involves the abrupt loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness.


The more disturbing finding, according to Chugh and his team, was that other people who witnessed the sudden cardiac arrest, like a sexual partner, only performed potentially life-saving bystander CPR about one-third of the time.

If you have a heart condition and are afraid that sex could trigger cardiac arrest, there's a reason to relax.

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

The researchers noted that sudden cardiac arrest kills more than 300,000 people in the USA every year and physical activity, particularly when the person is not accustomed to it, is linked to a higher risk of the condition.

The research was presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association. The researchers determined that the low bystander CPR rate accounted for the less than 20 percent of patients who survived to hospital discharge.

There's one silver lining for people who have a cardiac arrest from sex - they're nearly twice as likely to survive, Chugh said. But it again highlights the need to educate the public about the importance of CPR for sudden cardiac arrest-which is when an electrical glitch in the heart causes it to stop beating.

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