Diabetes May Be a Factor in Death of Johnson & Johnson Heiress

We ran this story today on Diabetes News Hound. I thought folks on this board may find it interesting.

For the second time in just a few weeks a young woman in the public eye has unexpectedly died, causing observers to wonder what role, if any, her diabetes played in her death. Johnson & Johnson heiress Casey Johnson, 30, was found dead in her home earlier this week. Read More...

I saw that she was type 1 on the news. She even wrote a book with her parents about managing a child's diabetes. Here is the CNN Article about her death.

Your website says that rumor indicates she wasn't taking "her medication," which I'm assuming is insulin. So she could have gone into severe DKA. But can you die from DKA? I thought for us type 1s, the bigger fear of death was from lows, not highs. I thought that highs would just lead to long-term complications.

I feel silly for not knowing this. Can anyone shed some light on the subject? Can you die from DKA?

Yeah, extreme highs can lead to coma, organ failure and death.  I can't stand unnamed sources and gossip sites, just fodder.  And what is severe diabetes? 

[quote user="CHLjoe"]

Yeah, extreme highs can lead to coma, organ failure and death.  I can't stand unnamed sources and gossip sites, just fodder.  And what is severe diabetes? 



I hate that too... she had "severe diabetes."  Is there a type of diabetes that isn't severe? I'll take that one, please. :-) I guess all diabetes is severe if you don't take your medication/insulin.

Exactly.  "I have mild diabetes because I'm on the pump."  "I have moderate diabetes because I do four shots a day."  "I have severe diabetes because I just don't take care of myself."

Yes you can die from dka my daughter was close. Some of her levels like potassium and so much more that makes the body function were barely at life sustaining levels from what we were told.

cant stand it either!!

gossip is gossip and gossip sells

I agree with the rest having a problem with the term severe diabetes.  That was taken  from Perez Hilton who took it from another blog so consider the source.  In the same place Perez took it from, however, there is another article that actually explained the difference btwn Type 1 and Type 2 so that was nice to see.

Yes, going high can cause death as I went into a coma because of it way back when I was 15 after a reaction to having my wisdom teeth removed (would have helped me to have a doc that gave me info about DKA etc - no internet back then). One always learns lessons with this disease.

In regards to Casey...There are many details to this story that are not out in the press.  She saw the same endo as I did.  I was having my 3 month check up when the coroner called to have all of her medical records sent over (they interrupted my apt).  I heard the conversation and even spoke with my doc about it following the call. Obviously she's not going to give me every little detail but I heard enough.  The bottom line was that she was not taking her insulin and there was no insulin in the house.  It sounds like the family isn't releasing other details and that's their choice.  Many will say 'well that's what you get for not taking care of yourself' or 'another rich kid on drugs' or 'another news story to give diabetics a bad rep' or whatever.  I didn't know her but I know she did a lot of fundraising with my doc in conjunction with the Hilton's.  A lot of that money goes to a clinic the doc runs in a not so rich East Los Angeles giving out free supplies 2 days a week.  I'll choose to remember that.   This disease is not easy, as we all know, and some can mentally handle it better than others.  She was one of the others.   To me, it doesn't matter what the gossip sites say about it.  They don't know the struggles we go through or she when through.  As Joe said - it's just fodder.   Even though there might be some bad press about her or diabetes in general, we should use it as an example as to why we should be helping other type 1 diabetics - so this happens less often.   She might have felt better about herself if she got some support here.  Just my two cents.....

It does not surprise me that she obviously was struggling with her diabetes.   We all do at times- just sometimes more severe than other times.  I am so saddened to hear that she was in denial and died before coming out of it.  

When I was 19, I kept reducing by insulin by overexercising and eating very little......well, 20 lbs later and dehydrated...and then to a point where I was having a hard time taking any insulin.....I finally hit low.....where I had to drive myself to the hospital and check in because I was in severe DKA........(could have died!)

I learned from that stint, that I was in denial....I was sick of having this disease.....so I tried to ignore it and almost killed myself in the process....

25 years later....I have never gone that far in denial of the disease.....but I have my bouts of denial all too often

denial by not  

1)   taking my bloodsugar when I should 

 2) eating anything and everything without thinking about it- only later to have to correct with insulin

3)  not having any glucose on me for emergencies (actually, I am pretty good about that now- I used to be reckless about it and did not have a glucagon)

4) going to bed without taking my bloodsugar

Maybe your list is different, more or less......just a wake up call that this disease is difficult to manage.  People who are critical about management of disease often time has not had to live with one.  One of the many things diabetes has taught me is to try not to judge other people when you are not walking in their shoes!

Anyone want to share their forms of denial of this disease....and perhaps....how they help themselves or get help to not deny the fact they have diabetes?


5) not going to my endo appointments

about a month and a half later, it  caught up to me

I am the same way Laura.. even tho I dont completely ignore the fact that i have it like i did in my teens (by not testing, brely doing insulin, unhealthy diets, drinking to much etc etc etc) I still have my things I do like:

1. I go to the endo every 6 months certainly not every 3

2. I get my a1c every 6-9 months (i blame this on the fact that i have to go to the blood lab cause they dont do it in my docs office and i cant go before work and im a procrastinter :)

3. I love food and will go off the deep end and eat everything i want and correct later, like i did for the past 2 weeks :O)

4. When i go out with friends or my bf and drink I drink and drink cause im having a great time.. i mean taquila, wine whatever and my blood sugar shoots up then that night im low and low the next day and i just deal with it... cause im having fun

theres prob more things i do but thats all i can think of right now, diabetes is so annoying in the fact that u can just pretend your normal like yeah im eating and doing what i want .. and worry about it later but u are always trying to not do that because u may have complications in 20 years and blah blahhhhhhh

Hi Laura,this is so honest,I am going to post on denial  because of what you just said.Can you post this on the denial post ? Evamarie,too-just saw yours..


My theory about how she died is she neglected to take care of herself.

I think you can die from DKA because of the A - "acidosis".  Acid, if strong enough can actually denature proteins.  If you have too much acid in your body, it can denature the proteins in your brain, which is the equivalent of cooking your brain.  This is why DKA is so dangerous.  It's not only the high blood sugar, but the acid that forms as a result of it.  I believe acidosis can occur in the body in others ways too, and it's always considered a dangerous situation.