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

Fewer than one in five men who suffer cardiac arrest during sex survive — because their partners do not know CPR

"Based on this data we now know that the likelihood of sex being a trigger for sudden cardiac arrest is extremely low", senior study author Dr. Sumeet Chugh, of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Heart Institute in Los Angeles, said by email.

Scientists say the key to surviving is calling the emergency services immediately and starting treatment. Previous studies have confirmed sex can trigger non-fatal cardiac events like heart attacks, but Chugh and colleagues designed their study to determine whether or not sexual activity is a risk factor for SCA in particular, since the condition accounts for 350,000 deaths in the USA each year. "The risk is very small".

According to the American Heart association, fewer than 10% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests survive.

Only 34 out of the 4,557 cardiac arrests examined occurred during or within one hour of sexual intercourse and 32 of those affected were men.

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The study found that only one in three people who had heart attack during sex received any CPR from their partner.

Previous research has already found a link between sex and minor cardiac events, so this new paper adds to the understanding of how sexual activity could be linked to serious heart problems.

In an earlier article about sex and heart attack, a USA cardiologist puts the absolute risk of heart attack for a 50-year-old man who exercises regularly at one chance in a million per hour.

There is another lesson though; survival rates after a heart attack are much higher where chest compressions and CPR are started while waiting for an ambulance.

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In addition, African Americans comprised 7.8 percent of the sudden cardiac arrests in the study, but nearly 19 percent of the sexual activity-related cardiac arrests. The researchers and their teams talk to the patient who gets a heart attack and also from the relatives of some who's closed one gets died due to cardiac arrest. That's a rate of just 0.7 percent, the researchers noted.

Together, researchers suggest that CPR training is clearly warranted, but the worry that friskiness can halt a heart is not.

Dr Chugh said: "These findings highlight the importance of continued efforts to educate the public on the importance of bystander CPR for sudden cardiac arrest, irrespective of the circumstance". The patients who did were more likely to be male, middle-aged, black and have a history of cardiovascular disease, according to the ACC.

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