Sex triggered one in 100 fatal heart attacks in men, finds analysis

Glen Mclaughlin
November 14, 2017

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

The majority of people who had a heart attack during sex also had a history of other heart conditions, including higher rates of ventricular fibrillation - a serious irregular heartbeat - and tachycardia, a faster-than-normal heart rate. Fear of post-sex heart failure has been bolstered by plot lines on TV shows like Mad Men, but in reality, "the risk is very small", senior author Dr. Sumeet Chugh tells NBC. Most of the incidents - around 94 percent - occurred in men around 60 years old on average, according to the study presented during the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting California on November 12.

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.

The new findings are part of a 16-year study of heart risk factors involving about a million people living in and around Portland.

The good news is that heart attacks during sex are still rare. That means that sex is linked to only about one in a hundred cases of cardiac arrest in men.

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

"We observed a relatively low overall burden of [sudden cardiac arrest] related to sexual activity in the community", the study says.

Survival often depends on how quickly patients receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or chest compressions, which can help restore circulation and maintain blood flow to vital organs. All reported cases were based on emergency medical service reports containing detailed information regarding the cause of the cardiac arrest.

The study found that only one in three people who had heart attack during sex received any CPR from their partner. However, a closer look at the study presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association revealed another far more reassuring statistic.

There's one silver lining for people who have a cardiac arrest from sex - they're nearly twice as likely to survive, Chugh said. The researchers determined that the low bystander CPR rate accounted for the less than 20 percent of patients who survived to hospital discharge.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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