Former actress and screenwriter Carrie Fisher was determined to have died of sleep apnea with the contribution of complications from other health issues, according to a news release by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office on Friday. While investigators were hesitant to pinpoint a single cause, they noted that there were signs of drug use in her system, as well as a buildup of fatty tissue in the walls of her arteries. In any case, the coroner’s office declined to release a full toxicology report yet. Fisher was 60 years old when she suffered a medical emergency on a December 23 flight; she passed away four days later. Her mother, fellow former movie star Debbie Reynolds, died one day after Fisher.
“I would tell you, from my perspective that there’s certainly no news that Carrie did drugs. I am not shocked that part of her health was affected by drugs,” said Todd Fisher, Carrie’s brother. Carrie Fisher would often reference her drug use in public settings, admitting to have used marijuana as early as the age of 13, as well as experimenting with LSD in her 20s. She also suffered from bipolar disorder from early on in her Hollywood career, along with an acquired smoking habit. “If you want to know what killed her, it’s all of it,” Todd said. He also says that the Fisher family isn’t all that interested in having a full coroner’s investigation released.
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person’s breathing to become irregular during sleep. The pauses in breathing could be as long as several minutes, which could result in suffocation and death. Usually this happens when the muscles in the back of the throat relax too much. In rare situations, sleep apnea could also be caused by a failure of the brain to transmit signals to the breathing muscles.