Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
iheartcats

Brittany Murphy + Dysautonomia

Recommended Posts

I usually do not pay much attention to things like this (I have enough of my own things to take care of) - but I keep hearing about Brittany Murphy and Dysautonomia and it being a 'possible' cause of her death.

Her list of medications included some things people with Dysautonomia might take like a Beta Blocker and anti-anxiety drug.

I personally have been told Dysautonomia won't kill you/isn't life threatening/can be debilitating but not deadly/etc. But people keep forwarding and sharing and telling me about this.

This is a video of her brother mentioning it (starting at about the 4 minute mark).

What do you guys think? Things like this get brought up in the media and you can imagine a friend or family member seeing it and being - "Hey! Have you seen this? I didn't think POTS was life-threatening!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everything I read said the coroner determined the primary cause of death to be pneumonia and the secondary cause was multiple drugs and anemia.

Doesn't sound like dysautonomia to me although if she did have dysautonomia it may have made it more difficult for her body to recover from the pneumonia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Everything I read said the coroner determined the primary cause of death to be pneumonia and the secondary cause was multiple drugs and anemia.

Doesn't sound like dysautonomia to me although if she did have dysautonomia it may have made it more difficult for her body to recover from the pneumonia.

Thanks for clarifying. I know I always get my flu shots as I don't want flu leading to pneumonia (bad for anyone with an underlying condition and not a good thing for anyone to have). I feel sad for the girl. It is a tragic thing. Pneumonia is nothing to ignore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cat Lady,

The other thing to remember is that "POTS" is not a diagnosis. It is a description of a syndrome that describes a cluster of various symptoms.

All of the autonomic specialists I have ever talked to say the same thing.....POTS is not a diagnosis. It's a description and there are many many reasons (root causes) why a patient can develop POTS symptoms (syndrome). Most patients never learn their root cause and in those cases a Dr will call it primary but that's only because they have not been able to identify the root cause. If they are able to identify the cause then the POTS would be listed as secondary or as "complications" due to X (Primary cause).

I personally have been told Dysautonomia won't kill you/isn't life threatening/can be debilitating but not deadly/etc

I know many of the specialists and physicians SAY this but I've learned the hard way that it's not really an accurate statement. Some forms of dysautonomia are potentially fatal--Shy Drager for example. It would depend on the root cause as to whether it's debilitating or truly life threatening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent!

God bless Brittany Murphy's brother talking out about this ailment as he has done. He has nailed it...the way it affects everything, the way medications do not help him, how long it takes to get diagnosed, and the need to push through the constant symptoms in order to live your life.

I agree totally with him about his trust in God as opposed to trust in anything else. Watching him made my day. I am not alone. Someone else "gets it". Of course, you all "get it" too.

As to dysautonomia causing death.... my opinion has always been, despite the doctors saying otherwise, that they have no idea if this disease can affect your life span or not. If they find an underlying cause, they may know more, but to say point blank that many people will get over this in a few years, when many of us have had symptoms from a young age?????? How can they know anything? They do not even understand this syndrome? In your particular case, it may not affect your lifespan. But, in general, I doubt they have a clue.

BTW, I do not let this syndrome affect my outlook at life. As Brittany's brother said, God has me here (for a reason), He is with me, and I trust it will all work out for good. My faith in Him sustains me.

This video made my day. The speaker was very good at expressing "the core" of this illness and how it affects things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely a great video. Even though they said she died from pneumonia I wonder if dysautonomia played any part in her being susceptible to getting it. My personal experience is that I can go into bronchitis just from congestion in my ears and pneumonia quickly if I don't take quick action. There is so much that they don't know and so many variables in pots. It was interesting that he has a family history of dysautonomia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that for many of us here and for myself as well, the knowledge that POTS is not life threatening is so very important because our symptoms very often feel so scary and threatening that we need to assure us mentally all the time that this is not going to kill us even though it feels like it.

I dont like to think of anybody panicking about this video now.

I watched the video and i really liked it and i think that its a great way to spread the awareness of dysautonomia in general.

For many years and throughout this Forum everybody and all the doctors (mine included) reassured me that POTS is not lifethreatening.

If you google any illness including flues, allergies and all the rest of it, you can always find a case were somebody died of complications of it, There is always some scary story to be found. If you google POTS you wont find anything like that.

The other thing is that if somebody dies suddenly and it seems like there is no obvious reason for it, they would naturally jump to the conclusion that whatever illness this person had would have probably caused the death (for example Diabetes, allergies, asthma, and all the other illnesses that exist).

Iam quiet sure that for example if somebody with dysautonomia would fall bad on their head (not due to dysautonomia symptoms but due to slipping out because of a banana or somebody pushing that person) and die from it without a witness, people would think that it must have been the POTS that caused it and if that person would have suffered from something else, then this would be the reason.

Hope my writing makes sense to you?!?!?!?

So please dont worry and about POTS being lifethreatening now.

Carinara

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the other posters. I don't want to get into details or offend anyone, but Brittany Murphy may have had some other issues going on her life not related to POTS. She may or may not have had dysautonomia too - I don't know. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell what is going on behind the scenes with some of these politicians, celebrities, etc. Regardless of what is true, Brittany's story is being portrayed by the media as not very credible and I wish dysautonomia wasn't in the picture because I want people to take it seriously...

I think some forms of dysautonomia can be life-threatening, but generally not POTS. I think the people who have life threatening forms have plenty of notice and go into serious decline before their condition becomes life-threatening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw this last night. I honestly don't know what to think, if Dysautonomia was the cause of her death or not. I'm glad to see her brother talking about his experiences with it though. Hopefully it will raise more awareness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Carinara,

Please remember that the flu and pneumonia claim many lives every year.

We tend to forget this but you can find the statistics online if you search.

Also it is a possibility she even had meningitis related to the pneumonia.

On one of my ER trips the rooms were all full and I ended up in a waiting room.

They brought in a big burly guy that apparently had been sitting at the table with his mom and just keeled over. He was moaning and seemed pretty out of it but they had taken him for a CT of the head I think. I had heard them saying he still had the pneumonia so for whatever reason he was not getting over it and it seemed as if somehow that infection was playing other havoc in his body and perhaps had even gone to his central nervous system. They had life flighted him out of there saying there was one chance for him and they were going to try it.

I couldn't help but notice how thin Brittany was in all her photos and maybe it wasn't anorexia and was more related to the dysautonomia it's hard to tell.

I can tell you from working in the nursing home that people have what they refer to as a reserve in our guts that give us strength and help fight off infection. They can do an actual lab test that shows what the levels are if anyone can think of what it's called please help me remember I'm sure I will here in a minute and can edit this post. They actually when a person gets very thin will do a lab test.(I think it's the serum albumin level) Below a certain level they do get the diagnosis failure to thrive. With almost any infection it will take their life. They are unable to fight it off just from a weakness so I'm not sure if this was a problem for her but I'm sure that it could be for someone with anorexia too. And I'm not sure that Brittany was anorexic maybe her thinness was more related to a problem with dysautonomia.

Anyway there are more factors to consider here I believe than just POTS that contributed to her death.

lieze

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There may have been substances contributing to her extreme weightloss as well...who knows! It is all a jumble and I think any way that your body is extremely weak makes you more vulnerable to things like pneumonia and death. We all need to take extra care of ourselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I too watched the video, and although we don't know what caused her death, it hurts just knowing she suffered through the same thing we all have and she tried to have an active life.

But if someone with all her publicity and all her money couldn't make this symptom well known while she was alive, we really have to try harder.

My doctor once told me this is worse than Lou Gehrigs disease because nobody every heard of it and worse than Multiple Sclerosis because there are no fundraisers to pay for research.

We need to be heard.

Frank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I certainly can't say if it contributed to her death but the video was spot on and I'm grateful he did it. The fact that she was a celebrity can help get the word out (sad but true). God bless her and her family..thanks for sharing that link.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, I think it's clear from the video that at least the brother has dysautonomia...he explains it in a way that only someone who has it can.,.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did appreciate how he explained it. He really hit it spot on - more so than any medical video I've watched.

It just made me very sad because you know people just brushed him off (like many of us) for years. And people don't think you are 'really ill' and the looks one gets from saying how much worse it is if someone with POTS gets the flu/cold/etc. People expect you to push on like everyone else.

But he did say you have to push yourself and live your life, and I try to do that. And I know Brittany looked very thin and we'll never know if it was from trying to fit in with Hollywood or simply just not having an appetite due to some kind of Dysautonomia. But I would assume being underweight cannot be a great thing with a chronic illness. Underweight is a medical issue too - just not overweight. It is bizarre how people don't tend to realize that.

I am glad her brother is trying to get the word out. I still bet there a a LOT of people with Dysautonomia who are put on antidepreesants or benzos for 'depression and anxiety' or told it's all in their head. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read in an article that Brittany Murphy had Mitral Valve Prolapse, and that although she was aware of the condition it may have contributed to her death. As many of you here know, MVP is often not dangerous, but sometimes if it becomes severe it can be; the article I read said that Brittany's MVP had become more severe without anyone knowing it, and that, combined with pneumonia, caused her to have a heart attack.

I have seen MVP grouped together with dysautonomia (I've seen things like, "Dysautonomia, MVP and related disorders" a lot), and I know some doctors consider them related and/or the same disorder. However, MVP is an actual physical problem with the heart, whereas most of us with POTS do not have structural problems. I would imagine a structural problem would be more dangerous than what most of us deal with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since my sister had it, I can tell you that the more serious condition is mitral valve regurgitation, not prolapse. The regurgitation eventually has to be addressed especially if the heart is enlarging in order to handle the malfunction. It took until my sister was in her 50's to need a repair to her valve to prevent serious problems. Also, I'm surprised Brittany had no idea of her problems, as usually, at some point, a doctor would have picked up on them, and followed up on them, especially if it is a well-known malady.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad more attention is being brought to dysautonomia.

Many with this disease are quite thin as GI symptoms are often a part of it all. To set the record straight, Brittany, according to what I've read, was not officially underweight. In the current BMI chart, there is a huge range of what is considered a "Healthy Weight" for every height. Brittany was at the low end of a healthy weight for her height. I am keenly aware of this as my son officially dropped into the "underweight" category as we searched for a DX. He was literally unable to eat due to nausea & vomiting. I was very afraid for him. I am at the low end of a "Healthy Weight." I eat normally and am fine.

If I were to become severely ill, I wouldn't have a huge reserve, but I doubt my weight would cause my death.

Julie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is speculation twice removed, but aspiration difficulties and being bed-ridden are inducers & contributors to pneumonia. Folks ill with something else (even a brain tumor or other extreme) can pass due to "simple pneumonia" at times, indirectly. Some dysautonomia can include difficulty swallowing and disruptions to breathing... usually MSA and such, but perhaps less so with others from what I've read. Being sick aggravates everything and pneumonia is a tough challenge even in best circumstance. Avoiding it and fighting it off could be tougher with autonomic troubles, and being very ill could push autonomic dysregulation further to extremes. Meds that help or are necessary could backfire or might not have even been a problem. Not sure how one could ever know for sure.

Regardless of circumstances/mystery of her tragic death it could be nice to hear other aspects of her life and the challenges she faced and how she must have worked so hard to overcome them. My condolences to her family. I do hope that pride in her accomplishments can assuage their loss. If there is more to be shared of a private battle with dysautonomia, perhaps we can learn that in due time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Contributing factor, perhaps? Yes...my lungs fill up with fluid if I go a couple of days being upright too much. Evidently, my blood pressure and/or heart rates are too whacked out to clear them out without the help of diuretics. I have fluid in my lungs a good portion of the time, I just keep it down to minimal levels. I'm not a good cougher, either, as, well, we all know the symptoms long coughing jags can cause. I also have a mitral valve prolapse, but I don't think this contributes to my inability to keep fluid levels in check.

So, are we more prone to pneumonia? I wouldn't be horribly surprised. Can we develop it more quickly than others? Possibly. Is it more difficult for us to clear our lungs of fluid? For me, that certainly is the case. Did dysautonomia contribute to Ms. Murphy's death? Depends what you mean by "contribute" or "cause", I suppose. "Normal" people do die of pneumonia...Jim Henson died of a very quickly developing case years and years ago. It's often a serious illness in and of itself. And remember...every year, they talk about how people with chronic health conditions should consider vaccination against flu and/or pneumonia. They don't say that for no reason, nor do they single out any certain "chronic conditions".

Personally, my belief is that we don't really know what happens to people like us over time. No one has ever studied it. How many people with autonomic dysfunction die and get a death certificate listing some other cause? I mean, in the end, everyone dies of either respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. I just watch for my risk factors and treat accordingly. My primary care doctor happens to agree with this approach, so therefore, he considers my dysautonomia a "risk factor" for several other conditions. It doesn't hurt to look at it this way. I don't know if having this causes some of these other risk factors or not. I don't know if this condition plus other risk factors equals a greater risk. Just pay attention...much like a diabetic would pay attention to the developing of sores on the feet or symptoms that could indicate kidney failure. These are things that need treating whether they are caused by the dysautonomia or not. So, I take my cholesterol drugs, take drugs to keep my blood pressure from spiking and heart rate from sky rocketing, take drugs to keep the fluid from building up at the rate of 15 lbs a day. I'm also aware that as a migraine/cluster headache sufferer that there is an increased risk of stroke, so I try to keep myself from falling into that cycle as well. I don't think we're ever going to get POTS or most other autonomic dysfunctions to be considered as conditions that are fatal. Even Parkinson's and MS aren't considered as such.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brittany Murphy's cause of death has been released.

AP file photo

If you like this ...

Actress Brittany Murphy has died

Could Brittany Murphy's death be prescription drug related?

View all ?

According to multiple media outlets, sources are reporting that the L.A. County Coroner's office has released the cause of death for actress Brittany Murphy. It is listed as "community acquired pneumonia, iron deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication". The 32 year old actress went into cardiac arrest at her home on December 20th of last year. There had been speculation that her death was related to drug use as well as anorexia.TMZ reports that multiple sources say her condition was"preventable". The L.A. County Coroner also believes her condition was treatable but she did not receive the proper medical care in time. The main cause of her death was her pneumonia and severe anemia, with the multiple drugs found in her system "pushing her over the edge". The drugs found in her system include prescription as well as over-the-counter medications. One of the prescription drugs found were pre-menstrual medication for cramps, as well as over-the-counter cough syrup.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Im Brittany Murphy's brother Jeff Bertolotti I have been a member here for a wile now. We did this video before the coroner's report came out. My reasons for feeling Brittany had this illness is because of the many conversations that I have had with her about the symptoms she had been experiencing at that time, along with what I know in reference to symptoms she was dealing with the last few years on movie sets. I learned about these problems she was having on the set from friends of mine in the business. She was diagnosed with MVP around 1999.

Myself I deal with this every day, and in my heart I feel Brittany was also dealing with it. She did die of pneumonia, my view is that she was also dealing with Dysautonomia head on. I would never attempt to use her name to draw a light on this matter unless I was very sure she was dealing with it. And I do believe she would be honored to help us all in this fight knowing how she felt about others who she was sharing this planet with. She was a blessing, and she will continue to be a blessing even from a distance. It takes a very bright light to shine in very dark places, Britt has already shinned a light on Dysautonomia in a way none of us could have. I hope you all deside to help with forward movement in this struggle. Write your congressmen and piont them to information about this dis order, start to email the AMA, and anyone else that needs to be nugged, just start to get the word out there, wile we have the opportunity...It wont last forever, and we do need support in this. With Love, Jeff Bertolotti

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeff I'm very sorry you lost your sister.

I did watch the video and thought you did a great job of presenting dysautonomia.

I also appreciated the advice you gave regarding having faith and trusting that there is a reason for us being here.

I value your advice to keep pushing past the feelings and doing what we can everyday to learn to function in these altered bodies for whatever reason they've been altered who knows. But it's like getting used to your own skin again.

It's the approach I'm trying to take is just believing I'm okay and so far it's working.

Again my condolences to you and your family.

lieze

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...