Brittany Murphy Dies

Very, very sad. A 32 year old dying of cardiac arrest. The comments on TMZ are of course normal TMZ-quality comments, but many are immediately jumping to the conclusion that this is cocaine or bulimia related.

We won’t know the cause of death right now. But the comments in TMZ highlight the public’s misunderstanding of cocaine. One comment said “too much coke.”

Just to clarify…any cocaine intake, no matter how small, can be fatal. There really isn’t a dose-related effect. The majority of cocaine-related deaths are from cocaine causing your heart to beat abnormally which can then cause your heart to stop beating. Any element of even a mild abnormality with your heart, and cocaine can push it over into a fatal kind of heartbeat. You only have to see this once to care about this as much as I do– a healthy, beautiful young person come in to the ER dead because he/she was out to have a good time. It’s the worst. I was a pediatric resident at St. Vincent’s in the West Village. Trust me. It happens more than you’d like to know.

Here are other good cocaine-related facts:

  • In 74% of cocaine-related fatalities in the United States, another drug, usually alcohol, had been co-ingested. The addition of alcohol to cocaine increases the risk of sudden death 25-fold.
  • Of patients with cocaine-induced heart attack, 38% had normal coronary arteries. More than two thirds were moderate-to-heavy cigarette smokers (>1-2 packs daily). The average number of additional coronary risk factors, however, was less than 1.
  • Most acute cocaine-related nontraumatic deaths are the result of tachydysrhythmias (abnormally fast heart beat). Other causes of sudden death associated with cocaine use include stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhage, hyperthermia, and the consequences of agitated delirium.
  • In patients with an arrhythmogenic anatomic substrate, even low levels of cocaine can cause tachydysrhythmias. (if you have anything at all wrong with your heart, a tiny amount of cocaine can kill you).
  • The hearts of cocaine users are 10% heavier than those of nonusers.
  • Cocaine users have been found to have a 14-fold increase in risk of stroke when compared with matched controls.
  • Of cocaine-associated deaths investigated by the Medical Examiner’s Department of Metropolitan Dade County, Florida, between 1979 and 1990, excited delirium was the terminal event in approximately 1 of every 6 fatalities. Patients with excited delirium had an immediate onset of bizarre and violent behavior, which included aggression, combativeness, hyperactivity, hyperthermia, extreme paranoia, unexpected strength, and/or incoherent shouting. All of these were followed by cardiorespiratory arrest.
  • Cocaine is the most frequently reported substance associated with drug abuse or misuse deaths. Cocaine is reported in 39% of such drug deaths, ranging from 8-70% in various areas.

Cocaine is the most deadly drug in America…more so than heroin. There is no known safe dose of cocaine. Combining it with alcohol puts you at an alarmingly high even greater risk. It can kill people on their first use or their 10,000th use. Please think about this.

Brittany Murphy Dies