The health issues that led to George Michael’s death

The year was 2016 and speculation grew as to what caused George Michael’s untimely death at the age of 53. Senior coroner Darren Salter later revealed: “Inquiries into the death of George Michael have been concluded and the final post mortem report received. “There is a confirmed natural cause of death, being dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and fatty liver.”

What does that mean?

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a diseased heart muscle that is enlarged and weakened, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains.

A weakened lower left chamber of the heart makes it difficult for the muscle to pump blood to the rest of the body.

The BHF elaborates: “The job of your left ventricle is to pump the blood with a new supply of oxygen to the rest of the body.

“The left ventricle usually has thick, muscular walls. With DCM [dilated cardiomyopathy], the enlarged muscle walls give the heart a rounder shape rather than its usual cone shape.”

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What causes DCM?

The BHF says for the majority of cases, the cause is “unknown” but, for some, it can be due to a genetic mutation.

Sometimes DCM can be caused by:

  • A heart valve problem
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Diseased blood vessels
  • A viral infection that causes inflammation of the heart muscle
  • A lack of vitamins, drinking too much alcohol and using recreational drugs.

It is widely reported that George Michael, the Careless Whisper singer, took drugs, but he also put on weight in the lead-up to his death.

As the coroner report mentions fatty liver disease, the British Liver Trust mentions that excessive weight is the main prerequisite, aside from alcohol.

Known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the “long-lasting” condition is “closely linked” to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart and circulatory disease.

There are several stages of NAFLD, depending on how scarred the liver becomes.

As fat builds up in the life-sustaining organ, it becomes inflamed and then turns into bumpy scar tissue.

As more scar tissue takes over the liver, its effectiveness of filtering out toxins from the blood is lowered.

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This can lead to irregular heart rhythms and problems with the heart’s pumping function.

“In severe cases, your heart becomes too weak to adequately pump enough blood to the rest of your body,” Penn Medicine notes.

As George developed dilated cardiomyopathy, it would seem that his heart was struggling to keep beating.

George Michael: Outed, episode two airs on Channel 4 on Tuesday, March 7 at 9pm.

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