An investigation into the death of George Michael revealed the 53-year-old English pop sensation died as a result of heart disease and fatty liver disease, according to an Associated Press report. Specifically, the report said the singer died of “dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and fatty liver."
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a serious, often life-threatening heart condition. Read on to learn about this type of heart disease and the other conditions listed in the report.
What is dilated cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease caused by damage to the heart muscle that prevents it from correctly pumping blood. When a damaged heart stretches to try to make up for its lack of ability to pump blood, it becomes floppy and enlarged. This is called dilated cardiomyopathy.
The initial cause of damage to a heart with dilated cardiomyopathy is often unknown. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), besides inheriting the condition – which is the case for up to one third of people with the condition – there are several potential causes of dilated cardiomyopathy:
- Coronary heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, viral hepatitis and HIV
- Infections, especially viral infections that inflame the heart muscle
- Alcohol, especially if you also have a poor diet
- Complications during the last month of pregnancy or within five months of birth
- Certain toxins such as cobalt
- Certain drugs (such as cocaine and amphetamines) and two medicines used to treat cancer (doxorubicin and daunorubicin)
What is myocarditis?
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart’s muscular wall, the myocardium. It’s a rare condition that often goes undiagnosed. The cause of a person’s myocarditis – if it can be identified – will fall into one of these three categories:
- infectious (bacterial, viral or fungal)
- toxic (medications, or exposure to heavy metals, toxins or physical agents)
- immune-mediated (allergic reactions, heart transplant rejection or autoantigens)
What is fatty liver?
Fatty liver disease occurs when the liver can’t break down fats like it should and a build-up of fat forms in the liver.
When this occurs in a person who drinks little to no alcohol, it’s called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is a common condition, particularly in men. Obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol are some risk factors that can increase the chances of developing NAFLD.
When excessive alcohol use is the cause of fat build-up in the liver, it’s called alcoholic fatty liver disease, according to the American Liver Foundation (ALF). The ALF says abstaining from alcohol may reverse the condition.
There are often no symptoms with NAFLD and alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, both conditions can cause fatigue, weakness and pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, among other symptoms.