Carrie Fisher’s Autopsy Completed: The Difference Between Cardiac Arrest And Heart Attacks

While the autopsy of Carrie Fisher has been completed and she has since been laid to rest – many still have unanswered questions surrounding the tragic loss.

Per E! News, the autopsy of Carrie Fisher was completed just a few days after her death. While the autopsy was initially placed on hold, the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office confirmed the examination had been finalized on the morning of December 30.

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds cause of death confirmed
Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds cause of death confirmed. [Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

Per the autopsy, it has been confirmed that the death of Carrie Fisher was the result of cardiac arrest. Per TIME, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office will be performing additional testing even though the autopsy is complete. The additional testing will include toxicology tests to determine exactly what caused her to have the massive cardiac arrest while aboard her flight from London to Los Angeles.

Why was the autopsy put on hold, anyway?

The reason the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office initially put the autopsy of Carrie Fisher on hold was that they didn’t want to rush the family. After all, the family was suffering two tragic losses and they office wanted to give them space.

“We’re not out to rush the family. We’re giving the family some space. They not only lost Carrie, but lost Debbie too.”

Ever since the autopsy of Carrie Fisher was completed and the information on her death certificate became public, media outlets have been using the phrases “heart attack” and “cardiac arrest” interchangeably. After the autopsy was completed, it was confirmed Fisher died of a cardiac arrest. Is that the same as a heart attack or is there some difference between the two? Keep reading to find out.

Despite the fact that some media outlets are using heart attack and cardiac arrest interchangeably to describe the way Carrie Fisher dies, the American Heart Association reports the two are not interchangeable.

Heart attack risk factors
Heart attack risk factors [Image by iLoveCoffeeDesign/ShutterStock]

A cardiac arrest is the equivalent of your heart having an electrical problem that causes it to stop pumping. A heart attack, on the other hand, is a circulation problem. A heart attack occurs when a blockage or rupture prevents blood from flowing to a portion of the heart. Typically, heart attacks do not cause cardiac arrest.

Per USA Today, Dr. Jorge Plutzky — the director of preventive cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School — explained how understanding the difference between heart attacks and cardiac arrest was related to Carrie Fisher’s death and autopsy.

“If Fisher dropped suddenly and passed out, then that wouldn’t necessarily mean a heart attack, and in an autopsy, they can usually tell. They might have known when she got to the hospital whether she had one. As far as I know, they know she had cardiac arrest and now the question is what might have been the driver of that and that may be the more detailed analysis they’re doing.”

Debbie Reynolds’ cause of death was more straightforward.

The cause of death of Carrie Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, didn’t leave people with as many questions. In fact, the coroner did not perform an official autopsy on Debbie Reynolds because of her recent history of strokes. Per her death certificate, Reynolds died of a result of intracerebral hemorrhage – which is a ruptured blood vessel that caused her brain to bleed. This condition is also commonly referred to as a hemorrhagic stroke. High blood pressure was also listed as a contributing factor in the passing of Debbie Reynolds.

Actress Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds
Actress Carrie Fisher and her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds [Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

Many also believed Debbie Reynolds simply passed away because the death of her daughter Carrie was too much for her to handle.

Please share your favorite memories of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds with us in the comments section found down below.

[Featured Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]