Conference Coverage

Sex-triggered sudden cardiac arrest extremely rare


Key clinical point: Patients with cardiac disease needn’t shy away from sexual intercourse because it might trigger cardiac arrest.

Major finding: Only 0.7% of 4,557 adjudicated sudden cardiac arrests occurred in association with sexual intercourse.

Study details: This population-based case-control study examined 4,557 sudden cardiac arrests in the Portland, Ore., area.

Disclosures: The Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study is funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and American Heart Association. The presenter reported having no financial conflicts.



– Patients with heart disease can safely be reassured that sexual intercourse as a trigger for sudden cardiac death is extremely rare, Aapo Aro, MD, said at the American Heart Association scientific sessions.

He presented an analysis from the ongoing Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study, a population-based case-control study that captures all cases of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in the Portland, Ore., area.

This was the first-ever study to examine the burden of SCA triggered by sexual activity. Of 4,557 adjudicated cases of SCA in adults during 2002-2015, a mere 34, or 0.7%, happened during or within 1 hour of sexual intercourse.

Thirty-two of the 34 cases occurred in men. That works out to 1% of SCAs in men being related to sexual activity. In women, the rate was 10-fold lower, at 0.1%, noted Dr. Aro, a cardiologist at Helsinki University Hospital who was at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the time he conducted this research.

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