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Study: Risk for sudden death during sex low for younger adults with heart disease

Study: Risk for sudden death during sex low for younger adults with heart disease
Death from a heart attack, cardiac arrest or stroke during sex is rare in younger adults, according to a new study. File photo by ronstik/Shutterstock

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Younger adults with a history of heart disease and other heart-related ailments can enjoy sex, safely, provided they take precautions, a study published Wednesday by JAMA Cardiology found.

Of nearly 7,000 cases of sudden cardiac death, or fatalities caused by a heart attack, cardiac arrest or stroke, reported to an English hospital over a 25-year period, just 17 occurred after sexual activity, the data showed.

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Most of those who died were in their late 30s and were male, and autopsies revealed that most had evidence of a genetic heart defect, irregular heartbeat or other form of heart disease, the researchers said.

"Younger individuals, aged 50 years [or less], with cardiac conditions ... may be concerned about their risk for sudden death during sexual intercourse," researchers from St. George's University of London wrote.

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"We believe these findings provide some reassurance that engaging in sexual activity is relatively safe in patients with a cardiac condition," they said.

Similar studies conducted in the United States also have suggested that well under 1% of sudden cardiac deaths cases occur during or after sexual activity.

For this study, the researchers analyzed data on 6,847 cases of sudden cardiac death reported to St. George's University of London between Jan. 1, 1994, and Aug. 31, 2020.

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In 17 cases, death occurred during or within one hour of sexual intercourse, the data showed.

Of those who died under these circumstances, one had been diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, or a thickened heart valve, a common form of heart disease, while another had a history of high blood pressure, the researchers said.

Two of those who died had no evidence of heart disease, based on autopsy results, they said.

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Six of the cases involved women, a higher proportion than found in previous studies, according to the researchers.

"Sudden cardiac death may occur in various circumstances, including physical exercise and sexual intercourse," the researchers wrote.

"The most common autopsy finding was sudden arrhythmic death syndrome, suggesting that primary electrical disease may be associated with a rare incidence of sudden death during sexual intercourse," they said.

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