The death of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch the brash, colorful figure who came to symbolize the city itself was a textbook case of the slow but tragic progression of heart disease, which led to the congestive heart failure that ultimately killed him, a top cardiologist tells Newsmax Health.
“Ed Koch was an example of the aggressive nature of heart disease, which marched on until it finally caused his passing,” said Chauncey Crandall, M.D., head of preventive medicine and cardiology services at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach, Fla.
The three-term mayor known for his irascible nature died Feb. 1 of the common condition. Some 6 million people in the U.S. now have congestive heart failure, which kills an estimated 53,000 each year.
“Too often, people think of coronary heart disease solely as a disease that solely affects the blood vessels of the heart. But Ed Koch’s story demonstrates the damage it can cause to the entire body,” Dr. Crandall noted.
Koch suffered from a long list of serious medical problems over the years.
The iconic mayor had a stroke in 1987 while still in office, but was able to resume his duties.
His heart problems began in 1991 when at age 67 he was given a pacemaker. Koch was hospitalized eight years later with a heart attack. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery and an aortic valve replacement in 2009.
“The fact that he needed pacemaker at a relatively young age showed that he probably had significant heart disease at that point,” said Dr. Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report newsletter. “Then the disease marched ahead, and caused him to have a heart attack eight years later.”
The beloved politician’s love of New York’s best restaurants, likely did not do his health any favors, Dr. Crandall noted. He once had a serious choking incident while eating ribs at a Chinese restaurant. He later joked that it was watercress that nearly suffocated him.
Koch often found humor in his medical problems, never seeming to be too concerned about his health. He famously treated his cardiac surgical team to porterhouse steaks upon his hospital discharge in 2009.
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