Washington - Heart patients have worried that they may die suddenly from sex, but a new study suggests they probably won't.
Researchers found that less than one percent of people who experienced sudden cardiac arrest were having, or just had, sex. Now Sumeet Chugh, one of the study's authors, has some "happy news" to tell his nervous patients.
"As a cardiologist, from time to time, in an awkward way, patients would ask me 'you know doc, what's my risk of dying suddenly with sexual activity?' We could say to them 'it's probably low,' but we never had data," Chugh said. "Now we have data to answer that question."
Researchers described sudden cardiac arrest as a "mostly lethal condition," that manifests as "an unexpected collapse and loss of the pulse."
More than 300 000 people die annually in the United States from sudden cardiac arrest, yet about one in 100 men and one in 1 000 women experience sudden cardiac arrest relating to sexual activity, according to the study which was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Researchers collected medical records, autopsy data and details of what the person was doing when the sudden cardiac arrest happened. Any cases that occurred during sex or within one hour were considered related to sexual activity.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurred during sexual activity in 18 cases and within minutes of it in 15 cases. In one case, the timing could not be determined.
"We were pleasantly surprised to see how low it was," said Chugh, the associate director of the Heart Institute for Genomic Cardiology at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
The study also shows that sex "obviously isn't as strenuous as we thought," Chugh said, and Goldberg agreed. Sex, in general, is equivalent to walking up two flights of stairs, she said.
But a concerning result of the study, Chugh and Goldberg noted, is that it seems to suggests that sexual partners aren't very willing to perform CPR, or don't know how, if a partner goes into sudden cardiac arrest.
Within 10 minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest, a person is likely to die, and only one-third of the people who experienced sudden cardiac arrest relating to sexual activity received bystander CPR, according to the study.