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Can Sex Cause Death By Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

November 15, 2017

Sex doesn’t kill, according to what appears to be the first study to evaluate sexual activity as a trigger for sudden cardiac arrest.

Researchers reviewing data on 4,557 adult deaths caused by sudden cardiac arrest between 2002 and 2015 in Portland, Ore., found only 34 involved sex. The report was presented Nov. 12 at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017 in Anaheim, Calif., and online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Most deaths associated with sudden cardiac arrest were likely African American males with a history of cardiovascular disease.

Sudden cardiac arrest, when the heart stops suddenly, deprives the brain and other vital organs of blood. If not treated within minutes, it usually causes death. About 47 percent of sudden cardiac deaths happen outside a hospital, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This could mean that many people with heart disease don’t act on early warning signs.

A 2013 study disputed conventional wisdom that sudden cardiac arrest strikes middle-aged men, unannounced and with no previous hints of trouble. Researchers found that most arrest victims experienced chest pains between four weeks and an hour before a sudden cardiac arrest. Others reported shortness of breath and, in a few instances, heart palpitations, dizziness or fainting.

To learn about heart attacks, visit the Heart & Vascular Institute by clicking here.