The cause of comedienne Joan River’s death has been revealed. On Thursday, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner issued the following statement:
“OCME has completed its investigation. The cause of Ms. Rivers’ death is anoxic encephalopathy due to hypoxic arrest during laryngoscopy and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy with propofol sedation for evaluation of voice changes and gastroesophageal reflux disease. The manner of death is therapeutic complication.
“The classification of a death as a therapeutic complication means that the death resulted from a predictable complication of medical therapy.”
Daughter Melissa Rivers posted on Facebook:
“In response to today’s release of the New York City Medical Examiner’s report, we continue to be saddened by our tragic loss and grateful for the enormous outpouring of love and support from around the world. We have no further comment at this time.” -Melissa Rivers
Anoxic encephalopathy, also called cerebral hypoxia, means that there has been damage to the brain due to an inadequate supply of oxygen.
Cerebral hypoxia refers to a condition in which there is a decrease of oxygen supply to the brain even though there is adequate blood flow. It can be caused by:
Symptoms of mild cerebral hypoxia include inattentiveness, poor judgment, memory loss, and a decrease in motor coordination. Brain cells are extremely sensitive to oxygen deprivation and can begin to die within five minutes after oxygen supply has been cut off. When hypoxia lasts for longer periods of time, it can cause coma, seizures, and even brain death. In brain death, there is no measurable activity in the brain, although cardiovascular function is preserved. Life support is required for respiration.