By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

AHAHEIM, California — A new study says that the odds of dying from sudden cardiac arrest due to sex is extremely low – even for people with heart disease.

Researchers analyzed records on 4,557 sudden cardiac arrest deaths around Portland, Oregon, between 2002 and 2015 and found that only 32 men and two women died of cardiac arrest during or within an hour of sexual intercourse.

Whether the risk during sex is higher or lower than resting or exercising wasn’t determined because researchers didn’t have enough information about frequency of sexual activity, according to the study published Sunday in Journal of the American College of Cardiology and presented at American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions.

Cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become so chaotic that the heart suddenly stops beating. People can die within minutes if not resuscitated. Fewer than 10 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests survive.

“For the last two decades we’ve been working on how to predict and prevent sudden cardiac arrest. By the time a person has a cardiac arrest and collapses and someone calls 911, the person is destined to die,” said Sumeet Chugh, M.D., associate director of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles and lead author of the study.

Researchers found that even though sexual partners were present during cardiac arrest, only one-third performed CPR, highlighting the importance of continued CPR education efforts “irrespective of the circumstance.”

Chugh said sexual activity as a sudden cardiac arrest trigger was studied primarily because it hadn’t been looked at previously.

“This is the first study evaluating this particular topic,” he said. “It’s not that we are preoccupied by sex. It’s just we’ve been looking at everything we can at why this happens and how we can prevent it.”

Other aspects of cardiovascular health and sex has been studied a great deal. Much of the research shows it usually positively impacts patients’ quality of life.

If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.