Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died of a heart attack, probably passed away peacefully without ever awakening, a top cardiology expert says.
“Based on the suddenness of it, he had a heart attack in his sleep, which stopped his heart. Nothing else will kill you suddenly while you’re sleeping,” Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health
Scalia, 79, was found dead Saturday at Cioblo Creek Ranch when he failed to appear at breakfast. His death certificate will list myocardial infarction – a heart attack – as the cause of his death, USA Today
said. Scalia had arrived Friday, spent the day quail hunting, and then attended a private party. But he left early, telling a friend he didn't feel well. He was discovered dead when he failed to appear at breakfast the next morning, CNN
and the San Antonio Express-News
“He was probably just feeling poorly but didn’t recognize what was happening so he went to sleep. He suffered a heart attack during the night, this caused his heartbeat to become unstable, and his heart just stopped, says Dr. Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. "He probably died peacefully, never having awakened," added Dr. Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report
Heart attack is the a leading contributor to such an event, which is known as sudden cardiac death, a leading killer of people over age 40. The heart attack results in a sudden stoppage of blood flow to the heart, which throws the heart's electrical system into ventricular fibrillation, a potentially fatal heart rhythm abnormality. When this occurs, blood stops flowing to the brain, the heart, and the rest of the body, and the victim dies unless emergency measures are taken to restart the heartbeat, says Dr. Crandall.
Such a scenario is not uncommon, especially in people in their 70s and 80s who appear healthy, says Marc Leavey, M.D., an internist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
“These people seem healthy, they don’t go to see the doctor, and they are most often the ones who will pass away in this kind of way,” says Dr. Leavey, whose practice includes a large number of geriatric patients. "They have a feeling that something's not right, but they can't articulate it, so they think to themselves, 'Maybe I'll just lie down for awhile until this passes," and they don’t wake up,” he added.
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