Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert's Death Preventable?

Tim Russert had just returned from Rome. He'd been on a plane for hours. I wonder if his "heart attack" was from an embolism, a clot that blocked an artery in his heart. A clot that formed from long hours of sitting. 

I wonder, since he was older and traveled a lot, if he was taking aspirin to prevent something like this. I wonder if he'd been given TPA or another clotbuster when the paramedics got there whether the clot, if that's what killed him, would have dissolved.

If he suffered an arrythmia, I would think the EMTs could have restarted his heart if they got there soon enough. He may have died from undiagnosed SDS, sudden death syndrome, an arrythmia problem which causes the heart to beat so fast the blood isn't pumping, and you pass out.  Sometimes falling to the floor can correct the rhythm. Other times, without intervention, you die.

Either way, blood clot, or SDS, I don't think he had to die. Unless no one discovered him unconscious until it was too late.

Sometimes being a celebrity means that your medical care suffers from doctors and paramedics not wanting to make a mistake, so they aren't aggressive enough. There was a study that I can't quote or link to [what else is new?] that said medical intervention errs on the side of caution when it comes to famous people. Better to be anonymous in an emergency.

On the other hand, Buffalo Bills' player, Kevin Everett, is walking because his team's doctor made a controversial and brave decision in front of millions of viewers to cool his body internally to prevent swelling around the spinal cord. Initially the decision was made to help Kevin because he was having so much trouble with his breathing when they took him to the ambulance. Ultimately, the decision meant he would walk again.

I don't think anybody truly reallizes how courageous that doctor was to make that decision.

Meanwhile, it makes me wonder what brave decision could have saved Tim Russert's life.


buckoclown said...

Interesting entry, it will be interesting to see what the autopsy shows.

frankandmary said...

Having worked in the medical field so long, I've been thinking much the same things you've mentioned in this entry.  Some assume THE FAMOUS ;-0 get the best care always. No, sometimes caution can be a bad thing, & I believe many are more cautious with people of his celebrity.~Mary

screaminremo303 said...

Honestly, can't people sometimes just die without nefarious operandi? I don't know what killed the guy but I'm guessing it has something to do with hypertension from being a workaholic and a few too many t-bones. Either way, his death is a true loss. I didn't always agree with his positions on issues but I'll give his due for sticking it to folks on both sides. The conversation from Jack Welch about Russert's last contract negotiation is a prime example of what can be "right" in journalism today.

ber144 said...

By last night they said that he died from a clot formed by cholesterol plaque breaking away from an artery, and that he had been previously diagnosed with mild heart dusease.  He also had an enlarged heart.  But I also thought of deep vein thrombosis as soon as I heard about his returning from Italy.  It doesn't sound like anything could have helped him.

Ditto what Remo said.  I can't imagine watching "Meet the Press" without him on it, and it's downright unfair that he did not get to see how this year's election turns out.

zoobie1 said...

Sadly there are some things that would have perhaps prevented his death & maybe we would just be taking about his recuperation from his heart attack.
Too bad he didnt persue medical info as doggedly as he did political.
Was he on anti coagulant therapy? Aspirin or Plavix? "Because you are no match for a dangerous clot"  Powerful words in that commercial.  
You can even "google" the phrase "eliminate cholesterol plaques" & a site comes up where the MD webmaster gives you a step by step approach to how to do this
something that surely is worthy of discussing with ones own MD especially when they are give a diagnosis of "asymptomatic coronary artery disease"  looking at that another way the doc's telling you, "You are a time bomb"
Finally measures to keep his endothelium slick (thats the layer that lines all our blood vessels) should have been in place, what are those?  Green tea folks with antioxidant EGCG makes you arteries like teflon.
RIP guy.