November 14, 2017 8:00 pm

It’s quite rare for sex to actually stop your heart: study

Researchers found in 4,557 cases, only 34 cardiac arrests occurred during or within one hour of sexual intercourse.


Although it can happen, going into cardiac arrest during or within an hour of sex is quite rare, a new study suggests.

The findings, which were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017 on Sunday, concluded there were 34 cases of cardiac arrests linked to sex between the years of 2002 and 2015. In total, researchers looked at 4,557 cases of cardiac arrest in adults over this time period in the U.S.

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“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, told Reuters.

This meant there was less than a one per cent chance of the death from sudden cardiac arrest during sex.

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“If this devastating event does occur, the partner should not hesitate to perform CPR since it will potentially increase the chances of survival,” Chugh told CNN.

The cases

Chugh and his team also concluded men were more likely to have sudden cardiac arrest during sex: one in 100 cases.

Women, on the other hand, were one in 1,000 cases, researchers noted.

“The presence of heart disease and the use of heart medications was common and similar in both groups,” researchers noted in a statement.

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In Canada, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, there are approximately 40,000 cardiac arrests each year, and only one in 10 survive cardiac arrest that happens outside of a hospital.

According to a statement by the foundation to Global News, the number of sex-related sudden cardiac arrest cases are not available in Canada.

What it feels like

Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness, and unlike a heart attack (which happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked), cardiac arrest occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions.

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This can be due to irregular heart rhythms, and because it is sudden, there are often no warnings signs.

The foundation adds when a person collapses, they don’t respond to touch or sound — they are most likely to make gasping sounds or stop breathing.

Importance of CPR

But the importance of knowing CPR was also an important takeaway in this study — CPR was not always performed by the other partner during these rare occurrences.

Alex Maheux, manager, communications at the Heart and Stroke Foundation, says it is quite common for people to get nervous when someone goes into a cardiac arrest, especially during an intimate time like sex. But regardless, all Canadians should know how to perform CPR.

“It’s super important to know how to perform CPR as soon as the person starts to experience cardiac arrest,” she tells Global News.

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She adds that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are sometimes available in certain condos or recreation centres and can the double chances of survival. And since CPR courses and training programs are easily accessible for Canadians across the country, it’s easy to learn this life-saving skill.

“The message is super clear: press hard and fast and the centre of the chest … it is effective.”

With files from Reuters

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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