Stroke After Sex
Woman, 35, Suffers Rare Orgasm-Related Stroke
Stroke From Sex continued...
"In one of the cases we presented, it is a little embarrassing, one woman
had stroke onset coincident with orgasm and having this sort of spontaneous
guttural utterance or moan," Cucchiara tells WebMD.
But just having a PFO isn't enough to cause a stroke. A person also must
have a blood clot, and that blood clot must break loose and enter the heart
just in time to be sucked through the PFO during sex.
Normally a small blood clot would simply get stuck in the lungs and
dissolve. But a blood clot that passes through a PFO can lodge in the brain and
cause a stroke.
Biller's team did indeed find that their patient had a small blood clot in
her leg, probably as a side effect of the oral
contraceptives she used for birth control.
"This is a rare occurrence," Biller stresses.
"The vast, vast, vast majority of people with PFOs go through life and never
have any problems," Cucchiara says. "You have to keep this risk of stroke
during sex in perspective. The risk is very low.
"If you develop sudden neurological symptoms during sex, it could be a
stroke and you need to seek help urgently and go to the emergency room,"
Cucchiara says. "But you should not spend a lot of time worrying about this.
Even if you have a PFO, of all the things to worry about in life, this ranks
near the bottom in risk."
There are devices available for closing PFOs. But Biller and Cucchiara both
note that doctors currently don't recommend this procedure -- even for most
people who have already suffered a stroke.
That recommendation didn't convince Biller's young patient.
"She was scared to death, and she and her boyfriend and family were pushing
us very hard to close the defect, so that is what we did," Biller says. "So she
had the device implanted to close the PFO."
Biller's report appears in the September issue of the Journal of Stroke
and Cerebrovascular Diseases.