49ers’ Thomas Herrion Died From Heart Disease

An autopsy has revealed that Thomas Herrion died of natural causes related to heart disease.

49ers’ Herrion Died From Heart Disease (AP)

San Francisco 49ers lineman Thomas Herrion died from heart disease when he collapsed after a preseason game in Denver on Aug. 20, the Denver County coroner said Tuesday. Herrion had ischemic heart disease, with significant blockage in his right coronary artery that caused the death of heart muscle, the city health department said in a news release. Herrion’s heart was slightly enlarged.

Drug screens on Herrion’s blood and urine found only atrophine, a drug administered when medical personnel tried to revive him.

This doesn’t diminish the tragedy of his death but at least should end speculation as to drug use and NFL training practices. It may fuel the debate over whether NFL players are “too big,” however. From the NIH:

Patients with this condition have weakened heart pumps, either due to previous heart attacks or due to current blockages of the coronary arteries. (There may be a build-up of cholesterol and other substances, called plaque, in the arteries that bring oxygen to heart muscle tissue). The term “ischemic” means that an organ, in this case the heart muscle, has not received enough blood and oxygen. “Cardio” refers to the heart and “myopathy” means this is a muscle-related disease. In summary, ischemic cardiomyopathy is a medical term that doctors use to describe patients who have congestive heart failure that is a result of coronary artery disease.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy results when the arteries that bring blood and oxygen to the heart, called coronary arteries, are blocked. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is a common cause of congestive heart failure. Patients with this diagnosis may at one time have had a heart attack, angina or unstable angina. A few patients may not have noticed any previous symptoms.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy is the most common type of cardiomyopathy in the US. It affects approximately 1 out of 100 people, most often middle-aged to elderly men. In the older age ranges, the gender difference becomes less pronounced.

Risks include having a personal or family history of heart attack, angina, unstable angina, atherosclerosis,or other coronary artery diseases. High blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high fat diet, high blood cholesterol, obesity and (rarely) stress can all precipitate ischemic heart disorders.

Related: 49ers Lineman Thomas Herrion Dies After Preaseason Game

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.