Can Sex Really Trigger Cardiac Arrest?
Other heart experts said they weren’t surprised by the results.
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Sex just isn’t as strenuous as people believe. The aerobic activity associated with sex is equivalent to climbing two flights of stairs, explained Dr. Nieca Goldberg. She is director of the NYU Center for Women’s Health and an AHA spokeswoman.
Dr. Martha Gulati, chief of cardiology for the University of Arizona College of Medicine, said, “Although a lot of us think sex requires an intense level of activity, even in the most extreme situations it’s not as intense as people imagine it.”
The safety of sex comes up from time to time with patients who’ve suffered a heart attack or have been diagnosed with a heart problem, Goldberg and Gulati said.
Sex generally is safe for most heart patients, unless they are unable to maintain even low levels of activity or have symptoms that keep them from doing daily chores like making the bed or cleaning the house, the heart experts noted.
Goldberg suggested that “doctors really should be discussing this information with their patients to allay their fears they may have after a cardiac diagnosis, that most people return safely to having sexual activity.”
There’s one silver lining for people who have a cardiac arrest from sex — they’re almost twice as likely to survive, Chugh said.
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About 19 percent of the patients in sex-related cardiac arrest cases survived their ordeal, compared with an average survival rate of around 10 percent nationwide, he said.
“By now, there is recognition from a lot of research that if someone is around when you have your cardiac arrest and provides CPR while the ambulance is getting there, it can be potentially lifesaving,” Chugh said. “You’re pretty much guaranteed to have a witness if sexual activity is involved.”
Yet only one-third of those witnesses in the study attempted CPR, which suggests a continuing need for public education on the importance of CPR, the study authors noted.
The study is scheduled to be presented Sunday at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif. It will also be published simultaneously in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
SOURCES: Sumeet Chugh, M.D., medical director, Heart Rhythm Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Nieca Goldberg, M.D., director, NYU Center for Women’s Health, New York City; Martha Gulati, M.D., chief of cardiology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix; Nov. 12, 2017, presentation, American Heart Association annual meeting, Anaheim, Calif.; Nov. 12, 2017, Journal of the American College of Cardiology