Even the best sex in the world probably won’t send you into sudden cardiac arrest, according to great news presented earlier this month at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017. Unlike a heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart’s electrical system is disturbed and suddenly stops. Few people survive it, but fortunately, the risk of it happening between the sheets is relatively low.
“The findings are reassuring,” senior author Sumeet Chugh, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, told USA Today. “Now we can tell them the risk is very low.”
Chugh and anyone who loves sex may be reassured because it hasn’t always been completely clear whether or not sex is good for men’s heart health. There’s some evidence linking cardiac events, such as sudden cardiac death, with increased sexual activity. Some studies even suggest that men who cheat are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, other research says having sex twice a week was good for men’s heart health, and guys who had less than that are at in greater jeopardy. So people could believe what they wanted to believe, even if it is a study that says Viagra will further decrease heart attack risk.
In an attempt to sufficient settle the debate, Chugh and his team analyzed medical records from everyone who died of sudden cardiac in Portland, Oregon, between 2002 and 2015, which included 4,557 cases — which were identified through interviews with paramedics because death certificates use codes that not always specify cardiac arrest. When they looked at how many of the 4,557 sudden cardiac occurred within an hour of sex, it turned out that only 34 of them did — roughly .7 percent. It’s worth noting that of the 34 deaths, 32 of them were men. The overall risk for men whose hearts fatally stopped after or during sex was 1 percent over the course of 13 years compared to .1 percent of women. It’s not a zero percent risk, but it’s rare and probably not something to worry about.
“If this devastating event does occur, the partner should not hesitate to perform CPR since it will potentially increase the chances of survival,” Chugh told CNN.
The research, though exciting for horny people conscious of their heart-health, has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, along with details about methods and potential variables. One obvious limitation may be that not everyone whose partner dies after or during sex will always report something so intimate. Chugh recommends that future studies look at similarly large samples over a period of time, as only 5,000 to 10,000 people a year would likely only account for a handful of these deaths.
Caveats aside, the research answered a question that “needed to be answered,” Michael J. Ackerman, a physician and researcher at the Mayo Clinic (who was not involved in the study), told CNN.
“And it’s a wonderful answer for those who love sex,” Ackerman said.