26. December 2004 · Comments Off on We’ve Lost A Good Man · Categories: General

All-Star defensive end and Baptist minister Reggie White has died at 43 of a massive heart attack. I will have to fact-check myself on this, but it seems to me White had a history of heart problems related to steroid use.

Glenn Reynolds has yet to blog on this. But I expect him to have much to say about the former Vol.

Update: As yet, I can’t find anything about steroids or heart problems with relation to White. If any of you have any leads, please pass them on.

Update 2: Well, it seems that Glenn was more brief than I predicted. I’d like to add, in reference to my tentative assertion concerning White and steroids: This was not an attempt to demonize a man who, in most aspects of his life, was an admirable personality, and a fine role model. Further, I have no agenda of general prohibition of adult steroid use. Although I do believe that, in this day and age, it is incredibly stupid. However, when White made his rise to stardom, we didn’t know nearly as much about their adverse effects as we do today.

Update 3: Reader Ronnie reports that the cause of death is now believed to be respiratory arrest due to sleep apnea (something I live in fear of). My other sources tell me the medical examiners are still unsure.

Updatee 4: Here’s something from CNN on White’s health problems:

White revealed Wednesday that his health problems last year were more serious than people were led to believe.

Not only did White endure a displaced disc in his lower back — which led to his brief retirement in April — and a case of pneumonia, but he said he also suffered from low white blood cell counts and contracted a rare lung disease called sarcoidosis.

And still he had 11 sacks and earned his record 12th consecutive Pro Bowl berth in 1997.

“The one thing I didn’t do about any of it last year is complain,” White said. “So, it’s good to feel well.”

Doctors don’t know what causes sarcoidosis, which affected White’s breathing and stamina. The illness can cause accumulation of inflammatory cells, called granulomas, nearly everywhere in the body. Though not curable, it can be treated with drugs. About half the people who come down with it eventually recover fully or have only minor lasting effects.

It usually affects young, healthy people between the ages of 20 and 50. Between 40 and 60 people out of every 100,000 contract the disease, and it generally is more severe among blacks.

“I had lumps on my lungs that were causing me to get tired,” said White, whose weight dipped from 305 to 290 when he contracted pneumonia.

White said recent X-rays showed the lumps are gone.

“I’ve been blessed,” he said.

That report was from way back in 1998. This goes to illustrate the difficulty in turning faded memories into reportable facts, and at the same time, monitoring yourself, so as not to fall into idle conjecture. It’s that much harder when no-one is paying you to burn shoe leather. Those of us with day jobs, and no trust fund, must rely upon our networks to flesh-out a story.

If anyone has further information, please feel free to post it, or email me.

Update 5: It seems that steroids are the prefered treatment for scarcoidosis. And, as for just how well known the side effects of steroids are:

AS also affect the cardiovascular system and the serum lipid profile. Relatively few studies have been done to investigate the effect of anabolic steroids on the cardiovascular system. No longitudinal studies have been conducted on the effect of anabolic steroids on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

At this point, although White’s documented problems were not not with his heart, but other thorasic organs, and any steroid use was in treatment, rather than cause of, I hold that my initial statement, couched as I made it, was not without merit. An autopsy is scheduled. When the results are known, some further work might be in order. As for tonight, I believe we can put this story to bed.

Update 6: It appears that the preliminary autopsy results agree with where I left this last night: a heart attack as complication from respiratory problems. But we may not know the whole story for months.

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