Study Finds Low Risk of SCA After Sex

A small percentage of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) events are related to sexual activity, but survival rates in those cases remain low, according to research presented Nov. 12 at AHA 2017 in Anaheim, CA, and simultaneously published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Despite these sexual activity-related SCA events being witnessed by a partner, bystander CPR was performed in only one-third of cases.

Aapo L. Aro, MD, PhD, et al., looked at the community-based Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study database from 2002 to 2015 to discover the frequency to which SCA occurred during or within one hour after sexual activity for all persons over the age of 18. All reported cases of SCA were based on emergency medical service reports containing detailed information regarding cause of the cardiac arrest event.

In total, the researchers identified 4,557 SCAs in Portland during the 13-year study period. Of these, 34 (0.7 percent) of SCAs were linked to sexual activity. On average, these patients were more likely to be male, middle-aged, African-American and have a history of cardiovascular disease, with a majority taking cardiovascular medication. Patients who experienced SCA related to sexual activity also had a higher rate of ventricular fibrillation/tachycardia than those who did not. The researchers determined that the low bystander CPR rate accounted for the less than 20 percent of patients who survived to hospital discharge.

Limitations to the study included unknown information surrounding the frequency of sexual activity, so researchers could not determine relative risk compared to rest and physical activity.

"Even though SCA during sexual activity was witnessed by a partner, bystander CPR was performed in only one-third of the cases," said Sumeet Chugh, MD, senior study author and associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. "These findings highlight the importance of continued efforts to educate the public on the importance of bystander CPR for SCA, irrespective of the circumstance."

Keywords: AHA17, AHA Annual Scientific Sessions, Ventricular Fibrillation, Survival Rate, Research Personnel, Risk, Death, Sudden, Cardiac, Heart Arrest, Tachycardia, Ventricular, Emergency Medical Services, Sexual Behavior, Exercise, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

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