The Clark County, Nevada, coroner’s office confirmed Jerry Lewis’s cause of death on Monday, one day after the legendary entertainer passed away at the age of 91.
Citing information from Clark County coroner John Fudenberg, USA Today reported that Lewis, just as previously stated by family members, died of natural causes, with his attending physician signing his death certificate. Specifically, Lewis was said to have passed on due to end-stage cardiac disease due to peripheral vascular disease, or the progressive weakening of the heart over a period of time. As the veteran comedian died in the care of his doctor, no autopsy will be conducted, Fudenberg added.
Jerry Lewis’s cause of death was originally announced as ischemic cardiomyopathy, which is a different condition from what is written on the death certificate. But Ferozan Malal, the doctor who signed Lewis’s death certificate, clarified that peripheral vascular disease and ischemic cardiomyopathy are both categorized under end-stage cardiac disease, according to a report from Billboard.
Talking about peripheral vascular disease in particular, MedicineNet describes it as a “form of arterial insufficiency,” where patients suffer from poor circulation of blood through the arteries. Risk factors may include, but not be limited to obesity, high blood cholesterol levels, smoking, and hypertension, while symptoms typically include numbness or coldness of legs and feet, and claudication, or arm and leg pains or cramps that manifest during exercise and disappear when resting. About 10 million U.S. adults, including about 5 percent of people aged 50 and above, are believed to suffer from this condition.
In simpler terms, Jerry Lewis’s cause of death can be filed under advanced heart failure, which affects about 10 percent of the 6 million Americans living with heart failure, according to Heart.org. The condition reaches an advanced stage when the usual methods for managing symptoms are no longer effective, meaning a person could complain of shortness of breath, among other typical symptoms, even when at rest.
The Heart.org page for advanced heart failure notes that medication and lifestyle changes are usually effective in managing the symptoms of heart failure in its early stages. But as time passes and the heart continues to weaken, patients may need more complex forms of treatment.
As noted by the New York Daily News, Jerry Lewis’s cause of death was preceded by several health issues, including a heart attack he suffered in 1960, when he was only 34-years-old. He suffered at least two additional heart attacks in 1982 and 2006, and also dealt with a variety of other conditions, including Type 1 diabetes, prostate cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and viral meningitis. Moreover, Lewis was nearly paralyzed by a back injury he suffered during a 1965 performance in Las Vegas.
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