But it can't give a more detailed risk analysis on how likely sex is to trigger a heart attack compared with resting or other activity without knowing how frequently these people were having sex.
One in every hundred fatal heart attacks in men was triggered by sex, according to a new paper exploring the impact of sexual exertion on cardiac arrest. "By the time a person has a cardiac arrest and collapses and someone calls 911 [999 in the UK], the person is destined to die", said Sumeet Chugh, associate director of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles and lead author of the study.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when an electrical malfunction causes the heart to stop beating.
The data, recorded from paramedic notes as part of a long-running study on sudden unexpected deaths found more than half of these happened (55 per cent) during sex, while the rest occurred within 15 minutes.
"This is the first study evaluating this particular topic", he said. In their research, they found that from 4,557 sudden cardiac arrest, around 34 was that which happens within an hour of sex, and 32 of them was men. For women, only 0.1 percent of cardiac arrest events were due to sex. "Now we can tell them the risk is very low".
Perhaps even more surprisingly, people who experienced SEX-SCA were typically younger than expected, at approximately 60 years.
The American Heart Association says sex is safe for most people with stabilized heart disease, but patients should talk to their doctors about individual risks. Also, African Americans were more exposed than other groups, accounting for 19 percent of SEX-SCA cases.
Only one-third of these SCA cases received bystander CPR.
Still, while these results are reassuring, Dr. Aro and colleagues highlight the necessity of educating the general population about the importance of CPR, as well as knowing how to perform this procedure correctly.