Michael Jackson is dead at 50 from cardiac arrest.
Cardiac arrest simply means that the heart has stopped pumping, which results in cessation of blood flow and oxygen to the organs and tissues. The body cannot be sustained without this, unless this is induced by a physician in the operating room when one is undergoing cardiothoracic surgery. In such cases, the blood continues to pump to the vital organs by the bypass machine. Everyone dies when the heart stops.
Cardiac arrest does not have to result from a heart attack. While it may be one of the causes in Michael’s case, it was reported that he had stopped breathing, known as respiratory arrest. In fact, the diagnosis that usually goes on the death certificate is cardiac arrest secondary to some other contributing illness.
Michael has had a life of ailments, some of which resulted in him taking pain and anti anxiety medications. He has been reported to have a number of auto immune disorders, conditions in which the body’s cells turn on themselves. In the 1980’s, it was said that he had a mild case of Lupus which went into remission. Then of course, his dermatologist revealed that he had Vitiligo.
Vitiligo is a condition where the melanocytes (cells that make the pigment) are not able to function properly and die, so the skin becomes depigmented and appears white. One of the treatment options is to depigment the entire skin so that the color tone is even, which everyone suspects that Michael did. This is a painless condition and should not result in the use of pain meds. However, patients with the condition could be depressed or anxious. The other autoimmune condition was reported to be Alpha 1 antitrypsin Deficiency which is a condition that allows the lung tissue to be destroyed. This was said to be only a rumor.
The pain medications began back in 1984, after Michael had a serious scalp burn during the Pepsi Cola commercial. There have been reports that he was taking a benzodiazepine, Xanax, and the pain killer Demerol, a morphine-like substance. The multiple surgeries were also painful and reinforced medication use.
Both of these types of medications when taken in high doses can cause respiratory arrest (i.e. the person stops breathing) this will then lead to cardiac arrest. Demerol can also lower the seizure threshold and result in a seizure in susceptible individuals. He reportedly had a broken vertebra and leg for which he has been taking medications for pain relief to the point where this was interfering with rehearsals for his planned concert tour.
It is reported that EMS performed CPR on Michael at the home for approximately 45 minutes and then doctors worked on him at UCLA for another hour but were unable to resuscitate him. The survival rate is dismal if resuscitative efforts occur more than 5 minutes after cardiac arrest. Less than one in five people survive or if they do, they may have significant neurological impairment.
Michael Jackson’s death has left us bereft and shocked because of the suddenness. This is often the case when a young person suffers from cardiac arrest, a usually fatal event.