Cardiac Arrest Claims Brittany Murphy


Brittany Murphy, the 32-year-old actress and star of “Clueless” and “8 Mile,” died of full cardiac arrest, according to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, who reported to ABC News. Ms. Murphy was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center early Sunday morning and pronounced dead on arrival, according to KABC-TV.

Brittany Murphy, who was born in Atlanta and grew up in New Jersey, started her career in the early 1990s. In addition to her on-screen roles in movies, television series, and commercials, she lent her voice to several animated characters in shows such as “King of the Hill” and the movie “Happy Feet.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming about 400,000 Americans each year. According to the Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) Foundation, approximately 4,000 of these deaths occur in young people under age 35. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that deaths from sudden cardiac arrest increased 10 percent between 1989 and 1996 in people ages 15 to 35, and in young women, the death rate increased 30 percent.


In young people, sudden cardiac arrest is often due to hereditary conditions. The symptoms of genetic arrhythmias are frequently misdiagnosed, according to SADS, and therefore the opportunity to diagnose and treat the condition is missed. Most cardiac arrhythmias and structural defects that may cause sudden cardiac death in young people are treatable.

The Heart Rhythm Foundation states that sudden cardiac death is not a random event. Although it may occur in people who appear to be perfectly healthy, most victims have heart disease or a heart condition, but they are not aware of it.

Without emergency medical assistance, sudden cardiac arrest results in death within minutes. Victims of sudden cardiac arrest can be saved if a defibrillator device is used immediately. A defibrillator delivers an electric shock that restores the heart to its normal rhythm.

About 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests occur at home, says the American Heart Association. If Brittany Murphy did indeed suffer sudden cardiac arrest, she was an unfortunate part of this statistic. Whatever the reason for her death, it is a sad and terrible loss.

ABC News, Dec. 20, 2009
American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Heart Rhythm Foundation
Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome Foundation