Michael Jackson’s death: Why it couldn’t have been a heart attack

October 5, 2009 by  

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Michael_Jackson_1984When Michael Jackson suffered from cardiac arrest on June 25 this year, there were speculations that led to erroneous reports that Jackson suffered from a heart attack. It wasn’t clear whether the heart attack theories were based on medical evidence or the common mistake of equating cardiac arrest to heart attack. Once again, I have to put emphasis that heart attack (myocardial infarction in doctor speak) is not synonymous to (although it can cause) cardiac arrest, which is the sudden stopping of the heart.

Heart expert Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley of Theheart.org wrote her blog heartfelt the many reasons why she is convinced that „Michael Jackson’s heart had nothing to do with his death [and] …was merely an innocent bystander.“ Dr. Walton-Shirley based her opinion on her analysis of Jackson’s risk factor profile which does not fit that of a young heart attack victim. These factors are listed and discussed below:

  • Family history. Heart disease seems to be not a part of the Jackson family medical history. Jackson’s parents are elderly (his mom is 79, his dad is 80) but are still fit. There has been no report of cardiovascular disease among his siblings.
  • Weight. Excess weight is a major risk factor for heart attack. Jackson was not overweight. On the contrary, he was underweight, looking „thin from the other side of the television screen but not emaciated.“ Excess weight is a strong indication of blocked arteries that lead to heart attack
  • Non-smoking. Smoking is another risk factor to consider and Jackson was a non-smoker.  
  • Diet. Jackson was rumored to be a vegetarian. Whether true or not, there is a strong indication due to his weight that he is not fond of animal fat.
  • Physical activity. The King of Pop can dance for extended periods, a feat that people with heart normally can do. Dr. Walton-Shirley, however, warns: Caution here on the exercise-tolerance issue, as 30% of all heart attacks may be asymptomatic.

In summary, Jackson did not have the most common risk factors that made him a likely victim of a heart attack.

Cardiac arrest, however, can be caused many things (including heart attack) and anybody can suffer from cardiac death that may or may not have to do with heart disease.

The latest autopsy reports reveal

Jackson was a fairly healthy 50-year-old before he died of an overdose. His 136 pounds were in the acceptable range for a 5-foot-9 man. His heart was strong with no sign of plaque build-up. And his kidneys and most other major organs were normal.

As to the real of cause of Jackson’s death, investigations are still ongoing. However, Dr. Walton-Shirley writes:

„His heart was merely an innocent bystander, a victim of the pop icon’s addiction and poor judgment, allegedly damned by a cardiologist’s stupidity, greed, and criminal negligence.“

Photo credit: wikicommons

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One Response to “Michael Jackson’s death: Why it couldn’t have been a heart attack”
  1. from montreal says:

    I appreciate to read something regarding Michael Jackson’s death written by health professionnal. But I still don’t understand why the results of the first autopsy were different. Here we learn that Michael Jackson weighted 136 pounds and measured 5 foot 9, instead of 45kg for about 5 foot 10. Also, you mentionned criminal negligence. Are you talking about giving propofol to somebody who wants to sleep or the fact that dr.Murray did not call the emergency faster ? For this point, I would like him to give us an explanation. As a professionnal, he did not seem to act correctly, on what purpose ? So many questions, I hope that you call the investigators to help them.

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