Tom Petty’s punishing lifestyle on the road probably contributed to the legendary rocker’s early death, a top heart-health expert says.
“The surest way to shorten your life is to be a rock star,” renowned cardiologist Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health.
The 66-year-old front man for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers died after suffering a cardiac arrest and was found unconscious at his Malibu home on Sunday. He was rush to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital and temporarily placed on life support, which was withdrawn Monday, according to reports.
His death at 11:40 p.m. E.S.T. came just days after he and his band had wrapped up three days of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.
They had launched the tour earlier this year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the band’s first record hitting the stores, playing multiple dates throughout the U.S., prior to their California stops. They were slated to take a break for a few weeks, and then head to New York City.
The stress of touring, performance pressure, and other challenges older rock musicians face can take a toll on the heart and overall health, Crandall notes.
“You’re on the road, eating bad food, exposed to cigarette smoke, and keeping late hours. It’s a punishing way of life, especially for someone of Petty’s age,” says Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Center in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
“He was like a powder keg, ready to go off.”
Although a cardiac arrest, which causes the heart to stop beating, isn’t always caused by a heart attack, it’s a likely scenario, says Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report newsletter.
It isn’t known if Petty had been suffering from any heart problems, but, in his 2015 biography, the singer revealed he had been a heroin addict in the 1990s.
According to Crandall, such drug use, even years ago, could very well have played a role in Petty’s death as well.
“Even if someone gives up a drug like heroin years earlier, it still could have damaged his heart’s coronary arteries, setting the stage for a heart attack, just like previous cigarette smoking causes lung cancer,” adds Crandall.
Last year, Petty told Rolling Stone the band’s 40th anniversary tour would likely be its last.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say I was thinking this might be the last big one," he said. "We're all on the backside of our sixties. I have a granddaughter now I'd like to see as much as I can. I don't want to spend my life on the road."
Petty released 13 albums with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and three solo albums. He also took part in the 1980s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.
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