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Examination: How common is sudden cardiac death during sex?


Study examines cardiac death during sex
Many men, especially older men, are concerned that they may experience sudden cardiac death during sexual intercourse. According to a recent study, the risk is said to be very low. This should provide the all-clear, even if there is a myth about this type of death.

Second death from cardiac arrest
The term "second heart death" (or second death or sudden cardiac death) describes the sudden occurrence of fatal cardiac arrhythmias, often in people who were actually healthy according to their own and external perception. It has long been known that sudden cardiac death is more common in athletes than in non-athletes. Sudden cardiac death in sports is known even in children. While sudden cardiac death in sports has rarely been well investigated, there has been little scientific information on how high the risk of sex is.

Sudden cardiac death usually occurs without warning. But in some patients the event announces itself. For example, chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath or dizziness can indicate imminent death. Such symptoms can appear a few hours before the event, sometimes days to weeks beforehand. The direct trigger for sudden cardiac death is usually ventricular fibrillation.

Sex and the excitement associated with it can also put the heart under considerable stress. However, there is agreement in medicine that even patients who have survived a heart attack should still remain sexually active. Because the likelihood that sexual desire will affect the heart in such a way that cardiac arrest is very low.

However, if such an event occurs in rare cases, men clearly have the worse cards. This is shown by the results of the Oregon SUDS study (Sudden Unexpected Death Study), which was recently presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) congress in Anaheim in 2017 and published simultaneously as a "Research Letter" in the journal "Journal of the American College of Cardiology" .

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles around Dr. In this study, Sumeet Chugh examined a total of 4,557 cases of sudden cardiac arrest between 2002 and 2015. These included only 34 cardiac arrests (0.7%) that occurred in connection with sexual activity. The absolute risk was therefore extremely low. Of the 34 cardiac arrests, 18 occurred during sexual activity and 15 in the first minutes after sex; in one case the time allocation could not be determined exactly.

Men were affected in 32 of the 34 cases (94%). Of all 34 patients, 29% had a history of CHD and 26% had symptomatic heart failure, the majority were taking cardiovascular drugs.

However, the scientists around Chughn also refer to another aspect of their study. This showed that resuscitation measures were only carried out in a third of all cases - even if other people were present at the time of cardiac arrest. Given this finding, the study authors recall that it is important to continue efforts to educate the public about the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of sudden cardiac arrest, regardless of the circumstances in which it occurs.

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