Few Cases of Cardiac Arrest Occur During Sex

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FEWER than one in five men who suffer a heart attack during sex survive, research shows. 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", said Chugh, the study's senior author and a highly respected expert on sudden cardiac arrest. 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.

Cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become so chaotic that the heart suddenly stops beating. "By the time a person has a cardiac arrest and collapses and someone calls 911 [999 in the UK], the person is destined to die", said Sumeet Chugh, associate director of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles and lead author of the study.

In any case, sex is an uncommon trigger for sudden heart failure.

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.

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Anxious whether your heart is strong enough for sex?

This differs from a heart attack, where blood flow to the heart is blocked. However, taking this latest one at face value, the odds of going into cardiac arrest when making love are similar to those...

Overall, 94 percent of the people who went into cardiac arrest during sex were men, according to the research. Patients who experienced SCA related to sexual activity also had a higher rate of ventricular fibrillation/tachycardia than those who did not.

Chugh and colleagues reported their findings at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting in Anaheim, California, and online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Almost 20 percent of people survived in sex-related cases, compared to only about 13 percent survival odds for other patients. They also highlight the need to educate the public on the importance of bystander CPR for sudden cardiac arrest, irrespective of the circumstances, researchers said.