To determine whether sexual activity might trigger sudden cardiac arrest, researchers examined records on 4,557 cases of cardiac arrest in adults between 2002 and 2015 in a community in the northwestern United States. Time couldn't be determined for the last case. "But mostly I feel it's reassuring data". The risk of that happening is very low, according to a new study.
"Previously we would say the risk is probably low, but we don't know how low", Chugh noted.
Cardiac arrest results in more than 300,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone, the researchers say. In the study, the researchers for five years of watching the health of a million people living in the northeast USA. "Over the years, we've had a fair bit of data on physical activity and how it's related to sudden cardiac arrest, but no one had looked specifically at sexual activity".
In August, researchers in France also reported that cardiac arrests from sexual intercourse appeared to be rare-but when it did happen, people were unlikely to get CPR.
Other heart experts said they weren't surprised by the results. Sex, in general, is equivalent to walking up two flights of stairs, she said. Most already were on medicines for heart conditions, so their risk was elevated to start with.
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.
Patients who experienced sudden cardiac arrest linked to sexual activity had higher rates of ventricular fibrillation - a serious cardiac rhythm disturbance - and tachycardia, a higher-than-normal heart rate.
There's one silver lining for people who have a cardiac arrest from sex - they're nearly twice as likely to survive, Chugh said.
Just 10% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive. "You're pretty much guaranteed to have a witness if sexual activity is involved".
What was significant - and troubling - was that bystanders performed CPR in only about a third of the cases. Their research experts presented at the conference society of cardiology in Anaheim USA.