Cause Of Heath Ledger's Death Determined

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger’s death on January 22nd was due to an accidental mixture of prescription drugs, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner for the City of New York has concluded.

“Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine,” said an announcement released Wednesday morning by office spokesperson Ellen Borakove.

“We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications,” the two-paragraph statement said in its entirety.

Heath, 28, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on January 22nd. Authorities said at the time that they did not suspect foul play but that medication was found near the body.

An initial autopsy was deemed inconclusive in determining the cause of death, it was announced on January 24th.

Heath had six prescription drugs, including anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills, unnamed police sources told the Associated Press.

Source

Comments

  1. Keyna says

    THIS TOTALLY BREAKS MY HEART!!!….AND I JUST SAW HIM IN BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN….GOOD MOVIE…GREAT ROLE FOR HIM…HE WAS AWESOME AND I KNOW HE’S IN A PLACE WHERE WE’D ALLLL LIKE TO BE!!! PEACE OUT HEATH!!!

  2. Jenna M. (UK) says

    Ok, I don’t know why the first comment I tried to post is under moderation. There isn’t anything offensive in it.

  3. Jenna M. (UK) says

    Suzianne, my beginning of my last post (still undfer moderation I think) was in response to your first post. This one is in response to your second.

    Who are you to say what “justifies” taking so many pills? Did you have any idea what was wrong with Heath? You sound very cold-hearted, uneducated and ignorant. It is not just physical ailments that require medication you know.

    Regardless of what you think, a young man is dead is a little girl is without a father. Surely you can show a little respect?

  4. oriana says

    Carleigh, I do think that there may be many helped from this terrible tragedy. It is an eye opener about mixing prescription drugs and I think his admirers may educate themselves better from this. Sometimes something good does come from something bad and the Lord does work in mysterious ways.

  5. carleigh says

    No Oriana, thankfully we weren’t hit with any tornado’s here. I had cousins in Kentucky that suffered some property damage but thankfully nothing major. It’s been raining and sleeting here today so I am sticking around indoors and not going anywhere. Staying in and keeping warm.

    I have been reading more about Heath’s passing on other sites and I am still finding out more information.

    I just hope that rather than being remembered for dying in this manner that they will use his death to educate people to the dangers of mixing prescription medications. It’s sad that he passed away, but maybe somehow a negative can be made into something positive…who knows, just a thought.

  6. says

    SUZIANNE – YOU GO GIRL! THANKS FOR BACKING ME UP! SOME PEOPLE ON THIS BLOG REALLY NEED A REALITY CHECK. HEATH WAS QUOTED IN A RECENT INTERVIEW SAYING HE’S NOW “OK WITH DEATH” BECAUSE HE KNOWS HE “WILL CONTINUE TO LIVE THROUGH MATILDA”. WTF! AT WHAT POINT DO YOU BECOME “OK WITH DEATH”. OMG! I PLAN TO BE HERE FOR MY CHILDREN AS LONG AS I CAN AND I’M SURE THAT THEY NEVER HAVE TO EXPERIENCE SUCH A LOSS BECAUSE OF MY SELFISH WAYS!

  7. Generic name says

    he died just like that?!! oh! that’s terrible…life is too short isn’t it?..its just like.. at one click of a hand it will end up!

  8. britmama says

    It is tragic that he died at such a young age. But this culture of overmedication (sp?) is very alarming. There are ordinary people dying from mixing different painkillers everyday and nothing appears to be done about it. Does a celebrity deserve more attention when they die prematurely, than us regular folk? Maybe their deaths would alert the public to the dangers and to cherish every day we are blessed with.

    It is sad that his daughter may not remember her time spent with her dad and of course her mother is distraught. But something prompted them to break up a seemingly happy home. There is talk that he was depressed at not seeing his daughter over Christmas. Was this due to movie scheduling? Could they not have got together around that time even for a little bit?

    Lack of sleep can cause a lot of distress to a body.

    There is a story out that the Feds are looking the origin of his supply of drugs. It is an unfortunate accident which did not have to happen.

    While giving the family time to grieve and remember the good times, let us all try to support those we know who may be anxious, depressed or just out of sorts.

    People talk about Britney and how weird she is, but many celebs have gone before her. Hopefully someone can get her the help she obviously needs before her life has a tragic ending too.

  9. Suzianne says

    Carleigh, read the coroners report. Heath died of an accidental overdose of SIX different prescription drugs!!!
    How accidental is that! Drugs stay in ones system for quite awhile. Your comment is full of crap. I am not being sarcastic-just realistic. He was an adult and there was no excuse that all those drugs should have been mixed. Just because he was an actor, the public feels sorrow for him. One is responsible for the consequences of their own actions and now he is dead and his daughter without a father.

  10. carleigh says

    Jess again….it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that he didn’t take these drugs necessarily as a combination….

  11. carleigh says

    Oriana, yes I know what “phantom pain” is, I’ve dealt with some patients who have experienced this phenomena and I’ve even heard from some that this pain can continue indefinitely.

    From what I have read about Neurontin it is used for management of the management of neuralgia (nerve pain) and also for the management of seizures in patients with epilepsy. The most frequent side effects of Neurontin will occur in the liver (hepatic impairment), kidneys (renal function decreases), & nervous system.

    There are slight increases in incidences of pancreatic cancer, but this increase was seen mostly observed in the male population. It can also be toxic to a fetus and/or interfere with ossification of bones in a developing fetus.

    I don’t know how much more information you want, but if you do let me know. I am taking an advanced pharmacology class this semester and it’s about way more than just the basic respiratory therapy medications we studied a few semesters ago.

    I hope people realize that they need to openly communicate with each Dr. that they visit and especially those who prescribe them medications, it can be a matter or death in some cases.

  12. says

    IT DOESN’T TAKE A GENIUS TO FIGURE OUT THAT TAKING SIX DIFFERENT KINDS OF MEDICATION FROM THE PAIN KILLING, ANTI-ANXIETY AND INSOMNIA CATEGORIES IS NOT A GOOD IDEA.

  13. carleigh says

    I guess I should clarify my definition of accidental and intentional…the police did their investigation, the medical personal did their part and finally the toxicologist and M.E. did their job.

    They determined that there was not enough medications in his bloodstream and tissues to where this would be labeled an intentional overdose…he simply mixed the wrong kinds of medications and it turned tragic.

  14. carleigh says

    Suzianne….your whole post is laden with sarcasm and dripping with venom. Read my post entirely…just because the man had these medications in HIS TISSUES doesn’t mean he gulped them all down at once.

    It is very easy to overmedicated and overdose on medications especially if one has no clue what each medication does or how it will react when combined with another. We have all had instances where we have taken one medication and innocently mixed it with another, but usually the last thing on one’s mind is overdosing or contraindications.

    If he had these medications in his bloodstream, more than likely have been detected in the initial autopsy and they would have announced something rather than waited until the definitive toxicology reports came back. An overdose is an overdose and it clearly has been label ed “accidental” and not intentional. But, I am sure you consider yourself rather to be the expert here rather than the toxicologist, now don’t you?

    Grow a brain and get a clue, if you want to spout off about things then at least know what the hell you are talking about in the first place.

  15. luckylee13 says

    This seems like a tragedy that could have been prevented..hopefully there will be an investigation as to how he got all these pills. Taking anti-anxiety and sleeping pills seem appropriate but what were the two powerful pain killers prscribed for?

  16. Lauren says

    How horrible. What a tragic ending to one of our most genuine talented stars. R.I.P. Heath. We love you.

  17. oriana says

    Such a tragic loss! Matilda has lost her father, Heath lost his life, the whole family will suffer from now on out. It is heartbreaking.

    I take a lot of pills, I am a diabetic, my doctor has all my meds documented and he checks each time he gives me new prescriptions. I am very careful with what I take and have to take an aspirin a day also.

    Carleigh, I take Neurotin for Phantom Pain, I am sure you have heard of it. How dangerous is that to me if I take two instead of one as prescribed, it is a PRN for me. Thanks!

    For those of you who don’t know what “Phantom Pain” is, it is a pain for people that has lost limbs, the doctors gave it to the returning Vietnam Vets to help with it. You feel like your leg or arm is still there, and you feel stabbing and stinging sensations, sometimes daily, sometimes once or twice a week.

    I was told it is usually for seizures, but it worked on the soldiers, very exp. $400.00 for a month’s supply!

  18. Suzianne says

    Whatever demons Heath had, does not justify popping a variety of pills. So maybe he had internal battles but what did it have to do with taking too much medication? Did he have diabetes, cancer, ulcers? Your comment is b……. and you are the a……
    My doctor cks to make sure what other medication I am on and any other doctor should ask that question. Anyone with half a brain knows you don’t mix drugs unless a doctor prescribes it. Heath did what Heath wanted to do and he has only himself to blame. Stop feeling sorry for him.

  19. Liza says

    Thanks Carleigh for such well thought out posts.

    There wasn’t any evidence that he had excessive amounts of any of the medications in his blood. I imagine that when the sleeping pills on their own weren’t working, he turned to the painkillers, thinking they would likely help him fall asleep.

    But no one knows what the real sequence of events were, only that he didn’t “overdose” and his death was not the result of chronic abuse. It was an accident, probably brought on by sleep deprivation.

  20. carleigh says

    Without knowing what Dr. prescribed which medications makes for a recipe for disaster. The main drug that likely killed him would be the temazapam, it is the strongest out of the lot. We don’t know in what combination and over what time frame these drugs were taken, and we don’t need to know because its irrelevant.

    He may have had therapeutic levels of each medication in his tissues, it doesn’t mean that he ingested each of these medications simultaneously either. If he had this combination in his blood then I don’t believe it would have taken so long to get the toxicology report back to determine the ultimate cause of death. What it means is that at some point in his taking these medications, he depressed his respiratory system, entered into a coma and died.

    The temazepam is the most likely culprit here because it is a very, very powerful hypnotic medication and if taken even in small amounts, when mixed with other CNS depressants…it is a lethal combination.

  21. carleigh says

    Without knowing what Dr. prescribed which medications makes for a recipe for disaster. The main drug that likely killed him would be the temazapam, it is the strongest out of the lot. We don’t know in what combination and over what time frame these drugs were taken, and we don’t need to know because its irrelevant.

    He may have had therapeutic levels of each medication in his tissues, it doesn’t mean that he ingested each of these medications simultaneously either. If he had this combination in his blood then I don’t believe it would have taken so long to get the toxicology report back to determine the ultimate cause of death. What it means is that at some point in his taking these medications, he depressed his respiratory system, entered into a coma and died.

    The temazepam is the most likely culprit here because it is a very, very powerful hypnotic medication and if taken even in small amounts, when mixed with other CNS depressants…it is a lethal combination.

    It’s sad and unfortunate that he didn’t have a Dr. to advise him of the dangers, I think he was on so much stuff towards the end that he would have done anything to sleep. The temazepam alone causes amnesia like symptoms and users have no recollection of certain events, I feel it was this medication alone that was the primary cause. He may have forgotten that he took the other meds and was going through an episode of almost what can be described as a mental fog.

    I will miss his talent and I feel so sorry for his daughter, all she has left of from him is a legacy of love and some unclear memories. She is the one who will have to carry these things through her whole life, I pray that she is able to find the peace and security that eluded her father in his life.

  22. Eir says

    Dori- he was sick with pneumonia at the time he died, it was all over the news that he was sick. It’s possible that he just wanted to go to sleep, and get relief.

    Suzianne- most people I know don’t assume that doctors are prescribing medications that when combined will KILL THEM. They assume the doctors know what they’re doing- which often times isn’t the case, or they just neglect to care enough.

    On the other hand, what kind of b******* comment is ‘Why was a 28 year old prescribed so many drugs?’ You don’t know him personally, or the internal battles that he struggled through. He probably NEEDED those pills for one reason or another.

    I take quite a few pills, and I have since I was young. Some are for physical medical issues, some are for mental medical issues. I need them. Without them I’d be homicidal. It’s perfectly rational for someone who isn’t 90 years old to take that many different drugs. Although the combination was a lot of anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, etc, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he didn’t NEED them. Way to be a presumptuous a******.

  23. chloe says

    Why would any doctor prescribe all these drugs??! Was he getting them from mulitple doctors?? If not, then that doc should be in trouble!

  24. Suzianne says

    Why was a 28 year old prescribed so many drugs? Was he that stupid knowing a combination could be disastrous? Feel sad for the child he left behind because I can’t feel sorry for him.

  25. dori says

    Don’t understand how he didn’t know that combination of anti anxiety drugs, sleeping aids, painkillers and anti depressants could be fatal.It’s really a very sad situation and he will be missed by so many. RIP Heath…

  26. Eir says

    Wow. That’s.. a LOT of drugs. Although I’m not saying he did it on purpose, I don’t think he wanted to leave his little girl without a father.

    But he WAS ill, which would make even the sanest person do some extraordinary things.

    He just wanted to sleep.

    RIP, Heath. You’ll be missed.

  27. carleigh says

    I have studied drugs in depth through school, the combination of the drugs that Heath Ledger had ingested was what killed him. It wasn’t abuse of drugs that did it, it was combining these medications that produced a paralyzing effect of the CNS and respiratory system, leading to coma and his eventual death.

    It only takes a small amount of temazepam in combination with the other medications, temazepam is a powerful hynotic medication and is typically prescribed for a short duration of time because it is a very powerful benzodiazepine medication. It’s side effects can be debilitating so it is used with the uttmost discretion.

    It is very unfortunate that this young man ingested so many medications w/o exploring the contraindications and side effects of each drug. People need to be more proactive in their healthcare and leave nothing for chance.

    I feel heartbroken for his family and daughter, another senseless tragedy that could have easily been avoided…it’s just very sad. Everyone loses, but Heath lost the most. RIP Heath Ledger.

  28. Tootsie says

    What a sad ending to such a wonderful person. Some demons just can’t be shook. God bless you Heath!

  29. boo says

    such a tragic loss, and the fact that it was accidental makes it that much worse, just goes to show that he didn’t do it on purpose and would have never wanted to leave his little girl if were up to him 🙁 its just devestating 🙁

  30. says

    What a terrible tragedy. I sincerely hope the press will leave his family alone to grieve, and stop airing anything to do with his past – we all have one.

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