You may have seen this idea play out on your favorite soap opera or primetime drama: a couple is going at it and mid-intercourse, someone collapses while grabbing their heart. Might make for great television, but as per the 2017 American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions it seems that this idea is over-dramatized, and that sex rarely equals out to cardiac arrest.
CNN reported that sudden cardiac arrest is defined as a ‘short circuit’ that can happen to the ‘electrical system’ of the heart, which can make it stop beating all of a sudden.
For the research study, lead author Dr. Sumeet Chugh and his team reviewed the lifetime medical records of those adults who passed away from sudden cardiac arrest within Portland, Oregon. The records stemmed during the years of 2002 to 2015. The team also used data from paramedic interviews, with trained individuals who take into account what occurred, versus just reviewing death certificates that offer codes and often don’t release cardiac arrest within the documents.
The team also spoke to survivors and used these conversations to analyze their study results.
Out of the over 4,500 sudden cardiac arrests that were found during that time, the team categorized any cases that occurred within one hour of sexual intercourse, which happened to be 34 instances (0.7 percent). Thirty-two of the cases involved males. Of these men, one percent of all cardiac arrest reports were determined to be triggered by sex. A mere 0.1 percent were females.
Patients who suffered cardiac arrest while in the act ranged in age from 34 to 83. One third were given cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Heart issues, along with medication use, were prevalent among these cases.
While those with heart conditions, along with their partners, may have anxiety around engaging in the act, the truth is, sex rarely triggers a cardiac arrest. While anything can happen in life, the need to maintain a healthy, happy, and exciting relationship that includes sex is probably more important than the worry around whether the act can be fatal for those who suffer from heart issues.