It’s a common TV and movie trope: a couple is having passionate sex when the guy’s heart abruptly stops beating.
«It’s usually a middle-aged male. Usually, he’s having an affair with someone else. «It’s strange, there’s this myth in our heads that this may happen,» said Dr. Martha Gulati, a cardiologist who calls the phenomenon the «Hollywood heart attack.»
But, according to Gulati, the former editor-in-chief of the American Academy of Cardiology’s patient education website, CardioSmart.org, ardour isn’t all that difficult.
While sex may make you feel like your heart has stopped, it’s just desire, not a life-threatening ailment, according to a slew of medical research, including a recent study out of the United Kingdom.
Researchers report in the journal JAMA Cardiology that only 0.2 percent of approximately 6,900 sudden cardiac death cases autopsied at a London hospital during a quarter-century were linked to sexual intercourse.
Dr. Michael Kurz, emergency medicine and surgery professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said, «There’s no dramatic association between personal relations and sudden cardiac death.» «It’s no more dangerous than any other intense activity.»
All cases of sudden cardiac death autopsied at St. George’s University of London Hospital between January 1994 and August 2020 were included in the British study. This resulted in a total of 6,847 deaths.
The researchers, led by Dr. Mary Sheppard of the hospital, next looked for cases where the death occurred during or within one hour of intercourse, but only discovered 17 of them.
The victims were all under the age of 38, and 35 percent of them were female, which Gulati found «interesting.»
«It was usually assumed that sudden cardiac death during intercourse was more of a male issue,» Gulati observed.
The London researchers discovered that nearly half of the cases had an underlying heart condition. The other half were diagnosed with sudden arrhythmic death syndrome, which occurs when a person dies unexpectedly from a heart arrest.
Gulati believes that the fact that so few people die of heart failure during intercourse is not surprising.
«There are numerous things we do that require more energy than having sexual relations. When it comes to worrying, people should be concerned about climbing a flight of stairs rather than having intercourse «Gulati explained. «You’d have to be doing some really acrobatic stuff during sex to use more energy than that.»
Gulati and Kurz, however, pointed out that the study only looked at heart fatalities that occurred during intercourse. There are perhaps a few more persons who had their hearts stop during or after sex and survived.
That’s why, whether you’re jogging with a partner, riding a spin cycle, or having rowdy intercourse, you should know CPR and how to use an automated defibrillator (AED), according to US specialists.
«It’s critical for all of us to know how to conduct CPR, recognize cardiac arrest, and use an AED if one is accessible, regardless of what activities we’re doing,» Kurz said. «Sudden cardiac death is a condition that occurs over a period of time. It is, in fact, a survivable disease state if it is quickly detected.»
So there’s another component of the Hollywood heart attack myth: the concept that if someone passes out during sex, they’re doomed.
«You should not allow fear to overcome you. CPR should be performed on you «Gulati explained. «Hopefully, the person who is with them will start CPR because it is the only way we can save lives.»