Sexual activity poses exceedingly small risk in causing sudden cardiac arrest

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A heart attack, the more precise name for which is a myocardial infarction, occurs when blood flow to the heart gets cut off somehow, starving it of its oxygen supply. "By the time a person has a cardiac arrest and collapses and someone calls 911 [999 in the UK], the person is destined to die", said Sumeet Chugh, associate director of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles and lead author of the study. Sudden cardiac death kills about 350,000 Americans each year.

Men made up the vast majority of the sex-triggered deaths, 32 out of 34, and this means in men, one per cent of all sudden heart attack deaths was sex related, compared with 0.1 per cent in women.

An entrance sign to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is seen in Dallas, Texas, October 4, 2014. A paper detailing the research was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017.

Cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become so chaotic that the heart suddenly stops beating.

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Because of the poor outcome of cardiac arrest, many who consider themselves at risk may try to avoid certain activities, such as sex, believing that they render them more exposed.

There were no significant differences in terms of cardiac disease history and medication across groups, although ventricular fibrillation and tachycardia were more common than other heart conditions. "Now we can tell them the risk is very low".

While sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA, results in more than 300,000 deaths each year in the United States, fewer than 1 percent were linked with sexual activity. The survival rate across all cases was under 20 percent, which the researchers link directly to the low rate of accompanying CPR.

Researchers said the findings may help inform discussions between doctors and patients on the safety of sexual activity and highlight the need to educate the public on the importance of CPR for sudden cardiac arrest.

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