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Can Sex Trigger A Fatal Cardiac Arrest?

The odds of dying from sudden cardiac arrest due to sex are extremely low, even for people with heart disease, new research suggests.

Researchers analysed records of more than 4,500 sudden cardiac arrest deaths around Portland, Oregon, between 2002 and 2015 and found that only 1% were possibly associated with sexual activity.

A total of 32 men and two women died of cardiac arrest during or within an hour of sexual intercourse.

Cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become so chaotic that the heart suddenly stops beating.

People can die within minutes if not resuscitated. According to the American Heart association, fewer than 10% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests survive.

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

Researchers found that even though sexual partners were present during cardiac arrest, only one-third performed CPR, highlighting the importance of continued CPR education efforts “irrespective of the circumstance”.

Chugh said sexual activity as a sudden cardiac arrest trigger was studied primarily because it hadn’t been looked at previously.

“This is the first study evaluating this particular topic,” he said. “It’s not that we are preoccupied by sex. It’s just we’ve been looking at everything we can at why this happens and how we can prevent it.”

The researchers said other aspects of cardiovascular health and sex have been studied a great deal and much of the research shows sex usually positively impacts patients’ quality of life.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and was presented at American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions.

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