Following the news of her shocking death at 60, Carrie Fisher is being mourned by friends, family, and fans. But now, with the completion of her autopsy announced, there remains uncertainty about what caused the Star Wars actress to die. Always candid about everything from her weight loss struggles to her bipolar disorder to past drug use, Fisher’s passing remains something of a mystery, and the “exact cause…is still unclear,” according to the New York Daily News.
The death certificate for Carrie revealed that the cause was “not obvious,” which reportedly means that additional testing will need to be performed. However, despite the uncertainty as to the cause, the certificate was released in order to allow her family to begin the funeral services.
TMZ reported that the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy but has “deferred” a conclusion on the cause. After her heart stopped on a plane flight just 15 minutes from landing in Los Angeles, Fisher was transported to the UCLA Medical Center, where she lingered on life support prior to dying.
Scientific American noted that in addition to her success as an actress and writer, Carrie became “a prominent mental health advocate,” famed for her outspoken approach to her bipolar disorder along with drug and alcohol addiction. She recently revealed that she initially was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 24, and finally accepted the diagnosis at 28, “when I overdosed and finally got sober.” She also spoke out about the need to connect with others with the condition.
“We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges.”
Noting that there has been speculation that her “substance abuse and struggles with her weight may have contributed” to Carrie’s passing, the media outlet pointed out the possibility that her bipolar disorder contributed as well. Several studies have linked bipolar disorder to mortality and cardiovascular disease.
However, Santa Monica Observed cited several experts who noted that Fisher’s self-confessed past drug addiction may have caused heart damage. The actress admitted taking cocaine and Percodan during the 1970s and 1980s and also confessed that she had used LSD during the filming of the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back.
Dr. Reef Karim, an addiction medicine expert and director of the Control Center in Beverly Hills, described the impact on the body from cocaine use.
“Cocaine use can cause long term cardiovascular problems that can be acute such as arrhythmias or irregularities on how the blood is pumped throughout the body.”
Dr. Gabe Mirkin also revealed that the use of cocaine can result in “long term muscle damage to the heart,” raising the blood pressure even after the drug is no longer used. In addition, the director of cardiovascular disease prevention at Danbury Hospital, Dr. Harvey Kramer, noted that the use of drugs as well as alcohol abuse can both result in cardiovascular health concerns as well as worsen any pre-existing conditions.
But beyond Carrie’s bipolar disorder and substance abuse, the Daily Mail noted that Fisher battled her weight for years, which also could have contributed to her sudden heart failure.
In 1976, Carrie “only got the part of Princess Leia” because she agreed she would lose 10 pounds, according to the media outlet. She also spoke recently about her feelings regarding her body.
“I have serious body dysmorphia issues. But I must admit being somewhat proud looking back at…photos.”
The Daily Mail described Fisher’s life as “haunted by weight loss and body issues,” noting that she admitted in 2011 that she detested “wearing big clothes.” Moreover, when the actress once again took on the role of Leia for 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, she was reportedly told to lose 35 pounds prior to filming.
“They don’t want to hire all of me, only about three-quarters,” stated Carrie in an interview. “Nothing changes, it’s an appearance-driven thing.”
Fisher called the pressure to lose weight “so messed up,” comparing it to being ordered to “get younger” because it was just as challenging.
“I’m in a business where the only thing that matters is weight and appearance.”
New research has revealed that losing and gaining repeatedly, sometimes known as yo-yo dieting, can have “negative effects on your heart,” reported Medical News Today.
The new study revealed that yo-yo dieting can boost the risk of dying from heart disease among older women, including those who are at a “normal weight.” These women who repeatedly gained and lost were 3.5 times more likely to die from sudden cardiac arrest than the women whose weight stayed the same, according to the new research.
[Featured Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]