Carrie Fisher Died From ‘sleep Apnoea And Other Causes’
Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher died from sleep apnoea and “other factors”, the Los Angeles County coroner says.
Her death certificate said in January that the 60-year-old, best known for her role as Princess Leia, had suffered a cardiac arrest.
But in a statement the LA coroner said the exact cause was unknown.
Sleep apnoea is a common condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep, either for a few seconds or minutes.
As well as listing sleep apnoea as a cause of death, the coroner’s statement cited other factors, including heart disease and drug use.
In a statement released to People magazine after the coroner’s ruling, Fisher’s daughter Lourd said: “My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it.
“She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases.”
Her manner of death would be listed as undetermined, the coroner’s statement said.
Her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, died the following day.
The daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher made her film debut opposite Warren Beatty in 1975’s Shampoo.
She also appeared in The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally and Hannah and Her Sisters, and provided the voice of Peter Griffin’s boss Angela in the adult animated sitcom Family Guy.
When You Dont Treat Sleep Apnea
People with untreated sleep apnea :
- are more likely to have a heart attack
- have a 2 to 3 times higher risk for having a stroke
- face more than 3 times the risk of premature death
In addition, people whove had sleep apnea for up to 5 years have a 30 percent increase in their risk for having a heart attack or dying, according to research conducted at Yale University.
The more severe ones sleep apnea, the higher the risk for either an attack or death. In the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort follow-up published in Sleep in 2008, 42 percent of the deaths in people with severe sleep apnea were due to heart disease. Severe, in clinical terms, is defined as having an apnea-hypopnea index score of 20 or more respiratory events per hour.
Also, the risk of cardiac-related death was more than 5 times higher among those with untreated severe sleep apnea when compared with those who did not have sleep apnea.
Research findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2005 also suggest that people with sleep apnea are more likely to die in their sleep due to sudden cardiac events, whereas most others who die of heart attacks suffer these events during the day. Low blood-oxygen levels lead to surges in blood pressure, oxidative stress to the walls of the heart, and disruptions to the hearts electrical rhythms.
Other celebrity deaths where sleep apnea was a factor
- James Gandolfini
- Daniel Lawrence Whitney
- Musician and American Idol judge Randy Jackson
- Musical legend Quincy Jones
What Happens In Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is literally when a person stops breathing during sleep, said Dr. Paul G. Mathew, in the online Harvard Health Blog. As a result, the brain undergoes repeated moments of suffocating.
That happens when the throat muscles collapse, the tongue falls back and the airway is blocked, leading to snoring, according to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. The condition affects an estimated one in four people over 60, it said.
The sleeping person will often awake briefly with a loud snort, which, while the subject of jokes, is often the person gasping for air as the brain is not getting enough oxygen, Mathew wrote. Untreated sleep apnea leads to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and dementia .
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Carrie Fisher Debbie Reynolds Laid To Rest At Hollywood Hills Cemetery
Fisher had the heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23. She died at age 60 on Dec. 27 at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, the certificate says.
Her mother Debbie Reynolds died the following day at another Los Angeles hospital, after having her own medical emergency while making memorial plans for her daughter.
The death certificate lists “writer” as the occupation in which Fisher spent most of her life.
It also says Fisher had been in the entertainment business for 46 years, and her highest level of education was 10th grade. The information in the certificate was first reported by TMZ.
Fisher, star of the Star Wars saga, and Reynolds, the Singin’ in the Rain actress, were mourned in a joint memorial at their neighboring homes on Thursday, and had a joint funeral at a Hollywood Hills cemetery the next day.
Relatives have said they are now planning a public memorial for them.
What We Can Learn From Carrie Fishers Death
I know my Mom, shed want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles.Carrie Fishers daughter, Billie Lourd
Carrie Fishers death may be said to be the result of a perfect storm of factors orbiting the central problem of undiagnosed and/or untreated sleep apnea. The ASAA is grateful to the Los Angeles County coroners office for stating the chief cause of death as sleep apnea. This effort gets to the heart of an ongoing need to discuss this dangerous, potentially lethal medical condition publicly.
Its also likely Carrie Fisher herselfsuch an advocate for overcoming the stigma of mental healthwould also advocate to remove the stigma surrounding snoring. Snoring is a major indicator for undiagnosed sleep apnea that should not go unnoticed by loved ones and family practitionersand yet it does.
Fishers daughter, Billie Lourd, said in the wake of last weeks coroners report release, I know my Mom, shed want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles.
If you or a loved one you know snores loudly and frequently, has inexplicable and persistent high blood pressure, experiences gasping or choking at night while asleep, suffers from long-term daytime fatigue, or awakens with a dry mouth, raw throat or headache, please dont discount the possibility you might have sleep apnea. Simple home testing can help rule the condition in and there are multiple approaches for treating this chronic medical problem.
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Heart Disease: Not A Top Concern
Forty-seven percent of women surveyed as part of a recent study did not know that heart disease is their gender’s leading cause of death, Bairey Merz said. And among those who do know, very few women think that it’s going to get them, she said. Very few women personalize it.
In fact, Americans most feared diseases are cancer and Alzheimers, with heart disease lagging far behind, a 2011 survey for the MetLife Foundation revealed.
Even if it doesnt kill you, heart disease can cause other problems, Bairey Merz said. Its the leading contributor to disability, such as Alzheimers and other dementias, as well as recurrent hospitalizations and large out-of-pocket expenses.
Home Sleep Test Available
If you’re a snoring person, you better make sure you rule out sleep apnea, Dasgupta advised.
Thats now easier than it used to be because of the existence of home sleep studies. Instead of sending patients to a sleep center, a doctor who suspects obstructive sleep apnea prescribes the home test, which lasts for one to three nights. ;
Theres no question that sleep apnea can be deadly, Dasgupta said. It’s going to contribute to higher blood pressure, poorly controlled blood sugar, stroke, atrial fibrillation, just to name a few,” he noted.
Dasgupta also pointed out that daytime sleepiness can cause tragic and even fatal vehicle accidents.
Fisher was the daughter of actress and singer Debbie Reynolds and actor and singer Eddie Fisher. Reynolds died of a stroke the day after her daughter.
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Heart Issues: All Too Common
Fisher was 60 when she reportedly suffered a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles last;Dec. 23, 2016. The actress and writer, beloved for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars series, died the following Tuesday. British pop singer Michael died on Christmas Day at 53, also of heart failure, according to his manager. Thicke, a Canadian actor best known for his role in ABCs Growing Pains, died Dec. 13 of a ruptured aorta, sources said.
Also on Tuesday, it was reported that comedian Garry Shandling died of a blood clot in the heart. Shandling, 66, died March 24 after calling for emergency help at his Los Angeles home. The cause of death announcement was delayed because of toxicology tests and a review of his medical records, reports said.
Cause Of Death Revealed For Both Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds
It’s been two weeks since the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, and now their death certificates have been released.
TMZ was first to report that the Star Wars actress’ cause of death was listed on the certificate as cardiac arrest/deferred.
The L.A. County Coroner’s Office will need to do more testing in order to determine exactly what caused Carrie’s heart attack.
Sources told TMZ that toxicology tests will be done in order to rule out drugs as a possible trigger for her death.
Fisher suffered cardiac arrest on December 23 while on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She died four days later at the age of 60.
Debbie died one day after Carrie, and her death certificate confirmed that she suffered a fatal stroke. Her cause of death was listed as “intracerebral hemorrhage,” with hypertension a contributing factor.
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What You Need To Know About Carrie Fishers Health Leading Up To Fridays Heart Attack
After news of Carrie Fishers heart attack Friday, speculation has surfaced surrounding her health and that dramatic weight loss leading up the incident.
The Los Angeles Times reported;that the Star Wars actress suffered a cardiac episode while on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Friday. She was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center, where she was stabilized and is in the ICU.
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Fisher has struggled with her weight publicly as far back as 2011 when she was a spokesperson for Jenny Craig. At the time, she was 180 pounds in a 5 1 frame. Im fat. All the;clothes in my closet belong to another chick, she bluntly told People back then. They have to make a new alphabet for my bra size. The weight gain came when she was on tour, thanks to unhealthy habits like regularly drinking soda and eating tons of peanut butter protein bars. Thats when she decided to lose 30 pounds on her own terms. She used diet and exercise to drop it. Elliptical workouts, water and Jenny Craig snacks like cookies and popcorn were what she credits to dropping the weight. I feel much better, she told the magazine. My blood pressure is down and I can stand on a doctor scale.;
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In the meantime, thoughts and prayers have been spilling out all over social media. With tweets from fellow Star Wars co-stars and family.;
Debbie Reynolds Had Christmas Table Set When Carrie Fisher Suffered Heart Attack Friend Says
Debbie Reynolds had everything prepared to celebrate Christmas 2016 with her family when her daughter, actress Carrie Fisher, suffered a heart attack aboard a flight on Dec. 23.
Fisher died four days later, on Dec. 27. Her mother, Reynolds, passed away the following day from a stroke. Her son, Todd Fisher, blamed heartbreak for his mother’s death.
Sue Cameron, Reynolds’ close friend, recalled that tragic holiday season, telling People magazine that the 84-year-old “Singin’ In the Rain” actress loved Christmas so much that she kept a tree up all year and had already planned the menu when she learned that her daughter had fallen seriously ill.
When Carrie was flying in on the plane , Debbie had already made sure the table was set,” Cameron said. “The menu, everything”
A post shared by Billie Lourd on Dec 25, 2019 at 4:10am PST
Fisher, 60, suffered the heart attack on that flight while traveling back to Los Angeles. The “Star Wars” actress died days later in the hospital, one day before her mother’s death.
“There was no Christmas dinner. The table just sat there,” Cameron told People.
Cameron said the holiday season is bittersweet, but there are constant reminders of Reynolds and Fisher.
“It’s almost as if they’ve never really gone. ‘Star Wars’ is back and Carrie’s daughter, Billie, is becoming a star,” she said.
She also shared an of herself singing John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery.”
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Connecting The Dots: Heart Disease Drug Use Mental Illness And Sleep Apnea
Heart diseasea well-known comorbidity to sleep apneawas clearly a factor in Fishers death. Other factors from the coroners report show negative correlations with sleep apnea as well.
Heart disease and sleep apnea
Its well known in medical circles that an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with the vast majority of cases still undiagnosed. Some statistics on sleep apnea mortality estimate that at least 38,000 people die annually from heart disease directly complicated by sleep apnea.
Those people suffering from a heart condition might be well advised to take a look at their sleep health to better understand why, as a quarter of all deaths in the US are cardiac related. Heart disease kills more people than any other illness or condition, and for those who die as the result of it, at least 6 percent have been shown to have had sleep apnea, as well.
Women experience heart disease differently than men, as well. Two forms of cardiac problems more typical for women include nonobstructive coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis.
In Carrie Fishers case, atherosclerosis was the condition that led to her heart attack.
Sleep apnea, because it further stresses heart function and deprives the body of blood oxygen, can only worsen whats already a bad situation.
Drug use and sleep apnea
Unfortunately, substance use and abuse can also cause sleep disturbances, which only frustrates the matter.
Mental illness and sleep apnea
Is It Possible To Die From Sleep Apnea
Some would argue that you might not actually die in your sleep from apnea. When the body senses its not getting enough oxygen during sleep, it forces an awakening. At this time, the breathing airways open and breathing resumes. Because of this mechanism, you stand no chance of suffocating in your sleep.
But thats not the point. In fact, its like saying people dont die from AIDS. No, they die from the inevitable complications that come from HIV. Its true for people with diabetes, as well. No, diabetes does not kill a person outright; its a long process that results in poor quality of life, disability, pain, dysfunction, and a shortened lifespan.
Semantics dont change the facts:;mortality risks have been shown in clinical research to be higher in those who have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea disrupts circadian rhythms, imbalances body and brain chemistry, interrupts cardiac and respiratory function, elevates blood pressure, and speeds up the hearts rate. When allowed to continue, untreated, it absolutely will lead to higher mortality for those who dont treat it.
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Carrie Fisher’s Death: What Happens When The Heart Stops Beating
Actress Carrie Fisher died today , after suffering a heart attack while on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23, People magazine reports. Fisher was 60 years old.
Fisher, who shot to fame in her iconic role as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” films, is reported to have had a heart attack 15 minutes before the plane landed at LAX, according to TMZ.
An emergency medical technician who was on board the flight administered CPR on the plane, TMZ reported. Once the plane landed, paramedics performed CPR for another 15 minutes before they were able to get a pulse.
That means that Fisher would have gone about 30 minutes without a heartbeat. But what happens in a person’s body when the heart stops beating?
Without a heartbeat, blood isn’t flowing to the organs of the body, including the brain and the heart, said Dr. S. Jacob Scheinerman, the chairman of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Scheinerman was not involved in Fisher’s case.
When a person doesn’t get enough blood flow to his or her brain, for example, that person loses consciousness, Scheinerman told Live Science. And losing consciousness may then cause a person to stop breathing, he said.
This combination a lack of blood flow and a lack of oxygen in the blood can only be fixed by getting blood moving to the heart or brain again, Scheinerman said.
But even if a person is given good CPR, time still plays a role.
But Could She Have Prevented The Heart Attack With Heart Disease Screening Beginning At Age 50
And nobody says that screening for women must begin at 50; a 35-year-old woman is just as welcome to visit a cardiologist to see if everything seems okay.
She can request an echo stress test; this measures blood flow through the heart during exercise.
And an echocardiogram measures heart function and structure.
The calcium score test involves the CT scanner.
The calcium score test shows the extent of hard or calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. When this stable plaque is present, its amount is correlated to a number: the calcium score.
Calcium scores strongly correlate to the presence of SOFT plaque. Soft plaque is the type that can rupture, causing a heart attack.
High bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels are associated with high heart attack risk, though heart attacks also occur in people with normal cholesterol.
Thats because there are other pathways to a heart attack other than clogged arteries, such as atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder. This can cause blood to pool in the heart, leading to clotscausing a heart attack.
It really is fair to wonder if Carrie Fishers heart attack could have been prevented had she begun getting annual screening;for cardiac problems even five years prior to her death.
What would the various tests, including an EKG, have picked up?
What would her calcium score have been?
What would her cardiologist, had she seen one, recommended, based on those test results?
Top image: Shutterstock/ Robert Kneschke
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