Actor Bill Paxton, star of such films as Aliens and Twister, passed away suddenly and tragically on February 25. He was just 61-years-old, and his death came as a shock to his family, friends, Hollywood, and the world. Initially, it was widely reported that Paxton died as a result of a heart surgery he had undergone just 11 days prior.
Today, ABC News is reporting that the surgical complication that took the life of Bill Paxton was a stroke, according to the star’s official death certificate. Paxton’s death certificate also revealed that the surgery that had been performed on the actor less than two weeks before he passed away was to repair an aortic aneurysm. What’s more, Bill Paxton had gone under the knife to repair a congenital heart defect known as bicuspid aortic valve. In fact, bicuspid aortic valve is the most common of all congenital (meaning a defect present from birth) heart defects.
In having his defective heart valve replaced, Bill Paxton would have undergone a full valve replacement to fix the problem, coupled with the surgical procedure required to fix his aneurysm.
In the case of Bill Paxton, as well as others suffering from bicuspid aortic valve defects, one of the three “small leaflets” that manage blood flow in the heart are missing. Up to 2 percent of Americans suffer from bicuspid aortic valve. Interestingly (and perhaps tragically) considering the untimely death of Bill Paxton, defect causes sufferers to face an increased risk of heart failure, stroke, and aneurysms.
As TMZ reports, the surgery that would ultimately lead to Bill Paxton’s death took place at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. The news outlet was the first to break the story of Paxton’s death and later his official cause of death. Bill Paxton was reportedly originally admitted for heart surgery on February 14.
Statistically, one-third of all sufferers of bicuspid aortic valve will go on to develop some kind of complication from the defect over the course of their life. Some sufferers, such as Bill Paxton, can go decades without an issue before one develops. In the case of the death of Bill Paxton, his death certificate doesn’t list what surgical complications spawned his fatal stroke, nor does it mention if his birth defect could have contributed to the complication and/or his death.
Following the news that Bill Paxton died as a result of a stroke and also suffered from a congenital heart defect (per his death certificate), his rep has declined to respond to media requests for further comment. At the time that he passed away, Paxton’s family simply said that surgical complications caused his death in a statement to the press.
“It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery. A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.”
Bill Paxton passed away the day before the Academy Awards, and following the news of his death, many of his former co-stars took to the stage to share their shock and condolences.
Bill Paxton is survived by his wife Louise Newbury and two children.
[Featured Image by Rachel Murray/Getty Images]