The Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office has released its findings regarding the cause of Carrie Fisher’s death. Although the official cause of death is being stated as “undetermined,” the Los Angeles Times reports that a statement from the office cited sleep apnea, drug use, and atherosclerotic heart disease as contributors. Atherosclerotic heart disease is a condition in which substances including fats and cholesterol collect on the walls of arteries. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing multiple times a night. Drugs can exacerbate its effect. A report that will provide more details is expected to become available on Monday.
Carrie Fisher was 60-years-old at the time of her death. After suffering a heart attack during a flight from London to Los Angeles on December 23, 2016, the L.A. Fire Department transported Carrie to the hospital. She died on December 27. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died from a stroke just one day later. The examination of Fisher’s body was done three days after her death.
The Star Wars icon spoke candidly about a lifelong struggle with drug addiction, mental illness, and her decision to undergo electroshock therapy. A decade after her role as the legendary character Princess Leia, Postcards From the Edge, a book written by Carrie about an actress struggling with drug addiction, was published. It was later turned into a movie that starred Meryl Streep in the lead role. She later had two more books published. Wishful Drinking and The Princess Diarist were nonfiction works.
The coroner’s office states that multiple drugs were found in Fisher’s body. They did not identify those drugs nor indicate if it appeared that she had taken them on the day of her death. They report that their role in her death could not be determined. Carrie’s daughter, Billy Lourd, released a statement to People.
“My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it.”
The Hollywood Reporter cites Carrie’s brother, Todd Fisher, as saying this about the number of drugs prescribed to her by doctors.
“They were doing their best to cure a mental disorder. Can you really blame them? Without her drugs, maybe she would have left long ago.”
Of her lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder and substance abuse, Carrie said in 2013,
“The only lesson for me, or anybody, is that you have to get help. I’m not embarrassed.”
[Featured Image by Ian Gavan/Getty Images]