Q: Can having sex cause a heart attack?

A: Despite rumors to the contrary, having sex is rarely a reason for sudden cardiac arrest, a new study reports.

Researchers identified 4,525 cardiac arrests in the Portland area from 2002 to 2015, for which emergency personnel had recorded detailed information about the circumstances.

There were 34 cardiac arrests during sexual activity, 32 men and two women. This amounts to less than 1 percent of all cardiac arrests among men, and 0.1 percent among women. The absolute risk of having cardiac arrest during sex “appears to be extremely low,” the researchers concluded.

Eighteen of the arrests occurred during sexual activity and 15 within minutes afterward. (Exact timing could not be determined for one case.)

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that almost a third of the patients had a history of coronary artery disease and a quarter had symptomatic heart failure.

“Although sexual activity, as well as other physical exertion, may transiently slightly increase one’s risk of cardiac arrest, the overall long-term health benefits of exercise far outweigh the possible risks,” said the lead author, Dr. Aapo Aro of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles. Still, he added, “patients with a severe heart condition should discuss the subject with their doctor.”

— New York Times News Service

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