This is the article from Newsweek...
Monday, December 21, 2009 5:45 PM
Brittany Murphy, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiac Arrest: Speculation and Science
made Brittany Murphy’s heart stop beating? We’re not likely to know why
the actress went into cardiac arrest until toxicology reports come out
sometime in the next six weeks. One clue, however, is that according to
her mother, she had type 2 diabetes. If that’s the case, her tragic death may have some simple medical answers.
Gossip Web sites have been quick to point out
that Murphy was plagued by rumors of drug abuse and anorexia, both of
which can put a strain on the cardiovascular system. But type 2
diabetes can be even harder on the heart. The high glucose levels
associated with the disease affect the arteries, making the vessel
walls rough and more likely to collect fatty deposits that block the
flow of blood. If blood flow to the heart is interrupted, the cardiac
muscle becomes starved for oxygen and dies.
Even when they’re
being treated effectively, people with type 2 diabetes are at a much
higher risk for a heart attack or stroke than most of us. Having the
disease is as big a risk factor as having already had one heart attack.
When diabetes patients do have heart attacks, they’re about twice as likely to die of them. Sixty-five percent of diabetes patients ultimately die of cardiovascular disease or related complications.
At 32, Murphy was young to go into cardiac arrest, but even children with diabetes
can have heart trouble. It's impossible for us to know, without
examining her, what lead to the cause of death. But someone in Murphy's
situation may have had other risk factors for a heart attack-regardless
of any rumors about anorexia and drug use. At the time of her death,
she was reportedly
“taking prescription meds for flu-like symptoms she had been
experiencing for several days.” Catching the flu can make a person more susceptible to heart attacks, and it’s especially dangerous for diabetics, since it raises blood glucose levels. If blood sugar rises too high, the patient may start vomiting uncontrollably
(as Murphy reportedly did before her death) before slipping into a coma
and dying. Some of the medications used to treat flu symptoms can also
cause abnormally high blood pressure, which is itself a risk factor for heart attacks.
medically plausible, given what we know about these conditions (though
not about Murphy's personal health) that someone with Murphy's alleged
health may have had a heart attack or that type 2 diabetes might have
contributed to it. But it's somewhat surprising that Murphy had
diabetes in the first place. The actress, who was often criticized for being too thin,
wasn’t exactly the face, or for that matter the body, of type 2
diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, half of men and
70 percent of women who have diabetes are obese. Perhaps that explains
why many celebrities with diabetes-at least the ones on this list-have
the other form, type 1, which isn't linked to obesity. (Type 1 diabetes
occurs when the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, type 2 diabetes
occurs when the body ignores the insulin the body does make.)
also didn’t have two of the other main risk factors for type 2
diabetes: being over 45 and belonging to certain ethnic groups
(African-American, Latino/Hispanic American, Native American,
Asian-American or Pacific Islander). But it’s possible she had a family
history-a common risk factor that often explains the phenomenon of the
“thin type 2.” As this writer
makes clear, “If you think being thin gives you a free pass from this
deadly disease, well, it may have a surprise in store for you ... No
one should assume he’s immune to this disease.”
Maybe that’s a
lesson we should be learning from Brittany Murphy, too. But at this
point, of course, all we can definitely say about her death is that it
happened too soon.