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People Who Died of Cirrhosis

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    Guttenberg Press, IA, Wednesday, September 8, 1897, pg. 1, col. 1Obituary.Died:--Friday evening, at 7:30, at his home in this city, of cirrhosis of the liver, Rudolph Minger, aged 55 years, 6 months an...
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People Who Died of Cirrhosis

Tags: cirrhosis, cause of death, liver, hepatitis C, alcohol abuse, jaundice, yellow skin,


The liver weighs about 3 pounds and is the largest solid organ in the body. It performs many important functions, such as:

  • Manufacturing blood proteins that aid in clotting, oxygen transport, and immune system function
  • Storing excess nutrients and returning some of the nutrients to the bloodstream
  • Manufacturing bile, a substance needed to help digest food
  • Helping the body store sugar (glucose) in the form of glycogen
  • Ridding the body of harmful substances in the bloodstream, including drugs and alcohol
  • Breaking down saturated fat and producing cholesterol

Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs, and naturally produced toxins. It also slows the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver.

According to the National Institutes of Health, cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death by disease.

What Causes Cirrhosis of the Liver?

  • Hepatitis C, fatty liver, and alcohol abuse are the most common causes of cirrhosis of the liver in the U.S., but anything that damages the liver can cause cirrhosis, including:
  • Fatty liver associated with obesity and diabetes
  • Chronic viral infections of the liver (hepatitis types B, C, and D; Hepatitis D is extremely rare)
  • Blockage of the bile duct, which carries bile formed in the liver to the intestines, where it helps in the digestion of fats; in babies, this can be caused by biliary atresia in which bile ducts are absent or damaged, causing bile to back up in the liver. In adults, bile ducts may become inflamed, blocked, or scarred, due to another liver disease called primary biliary cirrhosis.
  • Repeated bouts of heart failure with fluid backing up into the liver
  • Certain inherited diseases such as: Cystic fibrosis
  • Glycogen storage diseases, in which the body is unable to process glycogen, a form of sugar that is converted to glucose and serves as a source of energy for the body
  • Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, an absence of a specific enzyme in the liver
  • Diseases caused by abnormal liver function, such as hemochromatosis, a condition in which excessive iron is absorbed and deposited into the liver and other organs, and Wilson's disease, caused by the abnormal storage of copper in the liver
  • Although less likely, other causes of cirrhosis include reactions to prescription drugs, prolonged exposure to environmental toxins, or parasitic infections.

Every year, about 29,000 people in the U.S. die from cirrhosis, mainly due to alcoholic liver disease and chronic hepatitis C. The disease cannot be reversed or cured except, in some cases, through a liver transplant. It can often be slowed or halted, however, especially if the disease is detected in the early stages of development. Patients who think they might have cirrhosis should see a doctor without delay.

Cirrhosis and chronic liver disease were the tenth leading cause of death for men and the twelfth for women in the United States in 2001, killing about 27,000 people each year.[50] Also, the cost of cirrhosis in terms of human suffering, hospital costs, and lost productivity is high.

Complications:

  • Ascites – the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, causing abdominal swelling.
  • Esophageal variceal bleeding -- enlarged veins in the walls of the lower part of the esophagus that bleed.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy -- the loss of brain function that occurs when the liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood.
  • Hepatorenal syndrome -- the development of renal failure in patients with advanced chronic liver disease
  • Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis – an infection in the abdominal cavity despite the absence of an obvious source for the infection
  • Portal hypertensive gastropathy -- changes in the mucosa of the stomach in patients with portal hypertension
  • Infection -- The invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are not normally present within the body.
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma -- A cancer arising from the liver cells (hepatocytes)

Famous People Who Died of Cirrhosis:

Famous People Who Died of Cirrhosis (120 people listed)

  • Billie Holiday (1915-1959) American jazz singer & songwriter
  • Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) American novelist
  • Gail Russell (1924-1961) American film & TV actress
  • Daniel Webster (1782-1852) American senator & statesman
  • Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) Portuguese poet, writer
  • Matthew C Perry (1794-1858) Commodore of the US Navy in several wars esp. War of 1812
  • Murad IV (1612-1640) Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623-1640

Additional Reading:

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