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Death of a dear friend


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Odobea Find out more about Odobea
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  • Death of a dear friend

    Over a month ago, my dear friend died suddenly at age 27. The police and the coroner can't find a cause of death or a time of death. I suspect that he died of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome but I can't prove it and I don't know what to ask them to look for. It doesn't run in his family.
    He was healthy, a little stressed out from work and life in general (had just been through a nasty divorce) but things were looking up. They said he definitely did not die of natural causes, he didn't have a heart attack so they just don't know. Some unknown fluid was found in his lungs. When found, he looked like he was in a peaceful sleep.

    For almost a year now, he'd been complaining to me of not being able to sleep. He'd wake up in the middle of the night sweating and with sever heart palpitations. He had been getting by on 3-4 hours sleep per night due to what doctors told him were anxiety attacks. He was on medication for depression and for panic attacks none which ever worked.

    It's hard on those of us who were close to him. The funeral offered me no closure. I have a need to find out what happened or I fear I might go crazy. Life without him is hard enough but not knowing how he died is even worse. I blame myself for not checking up on his symptoms and not pushing him to get a second opinion when nothing was working for his diagnosed panic attacks.

    I don't know if he really had HCM but I'd definitely like them to look into it for the sake of the children he left behind. An autopsy has already been performed and nothing was found. They claim everything including his heart seemed normal. Tests are still being run. What can I tell his family to ask the coroner to look for?

    ~ Odobea

  • #2
    I'm sorry for your loss.

    By "unknown fluid" do they mean "unknown origin" or "fluid of unknown substance"? Fluid in the lungs is a sign that his heart wasn't working. The latter I can't speak to.

    You should ask the coroner to biopsy the heart and look for disorganzied cells and deposits of glycogen or collagen. Also a thick septum and left ventricular wall, but those are not definitive--the muscle cells are.

    HCM is very often misdiagnosed exactly as you describe your friend, particularly in young people as many doctors don't look for cardiac conditions in them and assume if it quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

    My best wishes on closure,



    • #3
      Re: Death of a dear friend

      Originally posted by Odobea
      They said he definitely did not die of natural causes, he didn't have a heart attack so they just don't know. Some unknown fluid was found in his lungs. When found, he looked like he was in a peaceful sleep.

      I am so sorry for your loss, and I hope that you will find the closure you need.

      When they say he definitely did not die of natural causes and found an unknown fluid in his lungs, I can only assume they are thinking he took his own life? As far as I know a sudden death from HCM, etc. is still considered a death by natural causes. For them to say it was something else indicates that there was evidence to substantiate that claim. I can't help but think that if the fluid they found in his lungs was the type of fluid that would accumulate from a heart-related problem... it would be easily identified by the coroner. Humans make mistakes though, so it can't be ruled out.

      These are just some thoughts I had... once again I am very sorry for your loss.

      "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."


      • #4
        HCM, is "natural causes" as it is a genetic disease and is naturally occuring. If HCM is the cause of death there will be an increase in heart weight and the cell structure will show signs of myocardial disarray.

        The term "suuden death syndrome" has no basis in truth, there are many diseases that cause sudden death in adults and children. HCM is only one of these conditions, it is the most common cause of sudden death but there are many others.

        If you or your friends family would like to talk about HCM and how it may have affected your friend please call the office.

        I am very sorry for your loss and do hope you find answers to this tragic loss.

        Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
        YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

        Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
        lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
        Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
        Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
        Currently not obstructed
        Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)


        • #5
          I'm very sorry for your loss and you've gotten some good answers here already. I hope and pray you get closure on this soon.


          Husband has HCM.
          3 kids - ages 23, 21, & 19. All presently clear of HCM.


          • #6
            Odobea, I also, am very sorry for your loss. I hope you and your friend's family can find the answers you need. Not knowing makes everything so much more difficult. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Linda


            • #7

              I too am sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you are able to find answers and put your heart at ease. Grief takes time and there is no timetable.

              Dx @ 47 with HOCM & HF:11/00
              Guidant ICD:Mar.01, Recalled/replaced:6/05 w/ Medtronic device
              Lead failure,replaced 12/06.
              SF lead recall:07,extracted leads and new device 2012
              [email protected] Tufts, Boston:10/5/03; age 50. ( [email protected] 240 mmHg ++)
              Paroxysmal A-Fib: 06-07,2010 controlled w/sotalol dosing
              Genetic mutation 4/09, mother(d), brother, son, gene+
              Mother of 3, grandma of 3:Tim,27,Sarah,33w/6 y/o old Sophia, 5 y/o Jack, Laura 34, w/ 5 y/o old Benjamin


              • #8
                Thank you all for your kind words and helpfulness. I have passed the information you all provided to the family and they have agreed to pass it on to the coroner.

                Apparently, it was originally suspected by the medical examiner that my friend had taken his life. I'm guessing that's what they assumed when they claimed he did not die of natural causes after finding the unknown substance in this lungs. Upon further review, they informed the family that that wasn't the case but they were unsure of the cause of his death.

                Since they're finding it so hard to find what caused his death, I'm guessing that he might not have had HCM but some other condition that caused his sudden death. Is there anywhere I can find information on what sorts of diseases or conditions that cause sudden death?

                I really appreciate all your input and responses. I feel like we're finally heading in the right direction.


                • #9
                  Here is an article that you may find interesting:


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