Jerry Lewis’s death from heart disease marked the end of his long struggle with cardiac problems, which was probably the legacy of his career in show business, a top expert says.
“Most entertainers die an early death from heart disease because of their hard-driving lifestyle,” Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health.
Lewis, a comedic icon and philanthropist, died Sunday in Las Vegas. Although his death was originally attributed to natural causes, the coroner on Monday released a statement listing it as “ischemic cardiomyopathy," multiple news reports say.
“Ischemic cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle becomes progressively weak and can no longer pump enough blood to keep up with the demands of the body,” says Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Lewis was plagued with cardiac problems during most of his life. He suffered his first heart attack in 1960 at the age of 34, and also had at least two more later on.
That Lewis had his first heart attack at such a young age does not surprise Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report.
“Most people in show business die young because they have multiple risk factors for heart disease, including frequent travel, poor sleep, and the stress that comes from being an entertainer,” Crandall says.
Lewis also weathered a number of other ailments throughout his life, including prostate cancer, Type 1 diabetes, and pulmonary fibrosis. He also suffered a major back injury in 1965 that almost paralyzed him, and left him with a lifelong chronic pain problem.
But Lewis always fought through his problems, performing and also ultimately raising more than $2 billion dollars for his favorite cause, the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“The fact that he lived to a ripe old age can probably be attributed to his sense of humor, as well as the fact that he felt he was on a mission to do good for others,” adds Crandall.
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