One in 100 cases of cardiac arrest in men was associated with sexual activity, compared with one in 1000 cases in women.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is similar to a heart attack, but the terms aren't quite interchangeable because the physiology behind them isn't the same.
Engaging in sex is rarely a heart-stopping activity, according to a new study. All reported cases were based on emergency medical service reports containing detailed information regarding the cause of the cardiac arrest. Previous studies have looked at sex and heart attacks, but those are caused by a clot suddenly restricting blood flow, and people usually have time to get to a hospital and be treated, said Dr. Sumeet Chugh, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles. "It's just we've been looking at everything we can at why this happens and how we can prevent it".
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops beating, due to faulty electrical signaling that affects heart rate.
Perhaps even more surprisingly, people who experienced SEX-SCA were typically younger than expected, at approximately 60 years. "Now we can tell them the risk is very low".
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The American Heart Association says sex is safe for most people with stabilized heart disease, but patients should talk to their doctors about individual risks.
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. Bystanders performed chest compressions on 27 percent of the non sexual activity patients, while 32 percent of the patients who had a sudden cardiac arrest during or immediately after sex received CPR.
But the study found that only a third of people who collapse during sex are likely to receive CPR from their partner.
"These findings highlight the importance of continued efforts to educate the public on the importance of bystander CPR for SCA, irrespective of the circumstance".