All socketed CPUs since the original Pentium have a nifty little restraining clip thing which makes it so that the only thing which will cause a heatsink to fall off would probably have destroyed the CPU already.
On slotted CPUs, the heatsink is typically screwed on. It could work its way loose with a lot of vibration, but that vibration would likely have long since pulverized everything inside your case anyway.
spontaneous heatsink removal is a pretty good simulation of what happens when a peltier cooler suddenly dies, though.
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