Alan Thicke. George Michael. Carrie Fisher. Three icons from the worlds of television, music, and movies who all lost their lives this month due to problems with their hearts. Their deaths serve as a stinging reminder that cardiac disease is the largest killer of both men and women across the country and around the globe. One in every four deaths in the United States is attributed to some form of heart disease. That equals around 610,000 people per year who lose their life, more than even cancer and respiratory disease.
On December 13, Alan Thicke collapsed while playing ice hockey with his son and later died at a nearby hospital. The cause of death for the 69-year-old TV personality was found to be a ruptured aorta. Doctors believe a tear occurred in the artery a few hours before Thicke collapsed, which lead to the rupture. While the condition is rare, it is fatal if not corrected immediately through surgery. Aortic dissection may have symptoms similar to a heart attack and occurs most often in men between the ages of 40 and 70. Another television icon, John Ritter, died from the same condition in 2003 after he was misdiagnosed and treated in the hospital for a heart attack.
Shocking news hit the music world on Christmas Day when it was confirmed that singer George Michael had passed away at the young age of 53. He was found unresponsive in bed, with his manager stating Michael died from heart failure. There are many contributing factors as to why the heart would stop pumping blood to the body, and there has been no word yet on what caused the George Michael’s heart to stop working. In many cases, the heart weakens over time until it eventually can no longer function.
Two days before Christmas came reports that beloved actress Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack on a flight from London just before landing in Los Angeles. Initially, family, friends, and fans were hopefully when Fisher was listed in stable condition. Unfortunately, the woman most known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movie franchise died on December 27, at the age of 60. There has been confusion over whether Fisher suffered a heart attack or cardiac arrest, which may have impacted her chance for survival.
- A heart attack occurs when there is a problem with the circulation in the heart. When blood cannot reach the chambers of the heart due to clogs in the arteries, the muscle weakens and can even stop working. While a heart attack (also known as a myocardial infarction) does not automatically lead to death, it can be fatal if not treated by medical professionals.
- Cardiac arrest can strike at any time and occurs when the heart stops beating suddenly. Without the heart beating, a person collapses from not breathing and a loss of consciousness. CPR must be performed or a defibrillator must be used immediately to get the heart started again or the person will not survive.
It is most likely that Carrie Fisher suffered cardiac arrest as she was attended to on the plane by nurses on board but was never able to fully recover. She is tragically one of the thousands of women who die each year from a form of heart disease with no previous symptoms.
Losing three superstars loved by millions of people in such a short period of time is difficult to process. Knowing that each died from a heart condition should serve as a reminder to make sure your heart is in good condition. If you or a member of your family has been a victim of medical malpractice due to the failure to diagnose or misdiagnose a serious heart condition, you have rights. Please call the skilled and experienced attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., today.