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Research suggests that sudden cardiac arrest after sex is rare but deadly

14 November 2017

Despite another partner being present in all sex-linked SCAs, just one-third of those patients received immediate CPR.

Those who experienced sexual activity related sudden cardiac arrest tended to be younger, with an average age of 60.3 years, compared to an average age of 65.2 years for those who had a sudden cardiac arrest that wasn't linked to sex.

"I'm a little surprised at the really tiny number", said study senior researcher Dr. Sumeet Chugh, medical director of the Heart Rhythm Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In an attempt to shed light on the extent that sexual activity is a factor in triggering SCA, researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute analyzed a database detailing instances of SCAs that occurred over a 13-year timeframe between 2002 - 2015 in Portland, Oregon.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is similar to a heart attack, but the terms are not interchangeable because the physiology behind them isn't the same.

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Great news! According to the results of a new study, sexual activity is very unlikely to result in a sudden cardiac arrest, especially if you are a woman.

But it can't give a more detailed risk analysis on how likely sex is to trigger a heart attack compared with resting or other activity without knowing how frequently these people were having sex. The vast majority were male and were more likely to be middle-aged, African-American and have a history of cardiovascular disease.

Just 34 out of the 4,557 heart failures inspected happened amid or inside one hour of sex and 32 of those influenced were men.

Sudden cardiac arrest kills about 350,000 people every year in the United States. It is not the same as a heart attack, in which blood flow to the heart is blocked.

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In any case, sex is an uncommon trigger for sudden heart failure. That's lower than the overall rate of CPR for those who suffer cardiac arrest out of a hospital, which is 46 percent.

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.

Though all patients included in the study had their sudden cardiac arrest witnessed by another person, less than a third received CPR.

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Research suggests that sudden cardiac arrest after sex is rare but deadly