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Brittany Murphy Death Ruled Pneumonia Complicated by Anemia


The LA County coroner’s office has completed it’s investigation into the December 20th death of actress Brittany Murphy. Officials have ruled her death as accidental as a result of community acquired pneumonia complicated by an iron deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication.

Murphy, 32, went into cardiac arrest at her home in the Hollywood Hills and was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Assistant Chief Ed Winter told PEOPLE Magazine that the actress’ death was preventable. “Murphy was planning on seeing a doctor, but she unfortunately passed away before she did. This was a case of a person with pneumonia who was anemic who was taking medication when she should’ve been getting medical treatment.”

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Community acquired pneumonia (CAP) is one of the most common infectious illnesses, but unfortunately remains the seveth leading cause of death in the United States. About four to five million cases occur each year, with about 25% requiring hospitalization. It is usually acquired by inhalation of a pathogenic organism, most commonly Streptococcus pneumoniae, into the lung, but can also result from a secondary bacteremia, such as a urinary tract infection.

According to a study published in the journal CHEST, diabetes mellitus is associated with an increased susceptibility to infection and increased morbidity and mortality. Patients with diabetes who contract pneumonia are associated with having a less postive prognosis due to an increase in pleural effusion – an accumulation of fluid between the layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity. Brittany Murphy had type 1 diabetes.

Iron-deficiency anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. It is most prevalent in women of child-bearing age and can be caused by an increased loss of blood, poor absorption of iron by the body, or too little iron in the diet. Among the prescription medications in Ms. Murphy’s nightstand was a prescription pain killer called Vicoprofen, which she was taking for severe menstrual cramps. Heavy menstrual bleeding can cause the blood loss that leads to iron deficiency anemia.

Ms. Murphy was buried in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. Hopefully, her tragic situation will underscore the importance of seeking medical help for health conditions before they cause harm.