According to a recent study, middle aged men are more likely to die from a sudden cardiac event shortly after (or even during) sexual intercourse than women of the same age or younger individuals of either gender. That same study says such cases of sexual activity-associated deaths are particularly rare even among sudden cardiac death (SCD) cases where otherwise healthy people suffer a cardiac event for no clear reason. Furthermore, the study says that younger folks who have diagnosed cardiac conditions should still feel safe engaging in sexual activity.
While most agree that we are all destined to die, the best way to do so is still considered an open question. Some may vote for going quietly in their sleep, while others hold to the old adage that it’s best to go out “doing what you love.”
Of course, a certain unnamed grandfather once told a certain Debrief writer that the best way to meet you maker was “with a smile on your face.” Sparing the details of this grandfather’s predictably lurid explanation of what he meant, and the fact that for many his answer was essentially the same as “doing what you love,” it suffices to say that this same grandfather would wholeheartedly agree with the conclusions of this latest study.
To conduct their study, which was published in the January 12 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Cardiol, the research team looked at SDC cases involving either middle aged or younger people who were less likely to have died from age-related health conditions, and whose death occurred within 12 hours of “apparent well-being.”
“Sudden cardiac death (SCD) may occur in various circumstances, including physical exercise and sexual intercourse,” reads the introduction of the research.
In total, 6,847 cases were analyzed, with a mere 17 (0.2%) of those deaths occurring “within one hour after sexual intercourse.” All cases had undergone an autopsy, including a toxicological screening to exclude non-cardiac causes of death. The research also determined that those 17 SCD cases “predominantly involved middle-aged men.”
More specifically, 11 of the 17 cases were men with a mean age above 38. Surprisingly, a full nine of the 17 showed a “structurally normal heart at autopsy,” meaning that SCD was the only likely cause and not a pre-existing undiagnosed condition.
“The most common autopsy finding was sudden arrhythmic death syndrome,” the study concludes, “suggesting that primary electrical disease may be associated with a rare incidence of sudden death during sexual intercourse.”
Ultimately, the research showed that even among verifiable cases of sudden cardiac death (which is already rare) where the individual was otherwise healthy, a mere 1 in 500 of these was associated with sexual activity. Such information is good news for folks with heart conditions as well, say researchers, especially if those engaging in sexual activity are relatively young.
“We believe these findings provide some reassurance that engaging in sexual activity is relatively safe in patients with a cardiac condition, especially in younger (aged <50 years) individuals.”
As for those over 50 who have a healthy heart (cough), the results of this study offer little if any insight. However, if any future studies show that the odds of SCD increase with age and sexual activity, I can say with a high degree of confidence that some of us will still roll the dice, knowing full well that the worst-case scenario is going out “with a smile on your face.” RIP grandpa.