The death of Karen Carpenter - "Lead Sister" (lead singer) of The Carpenters music - shocked the world. Fame, fortune and talent couldn't protect her from anorexia death.
I'll never forget that early February morning in 1983 when I woke up for school to the startling news about the death of Karen Carpenter. I was 14 years old at the time, but the memory is as vivid today as it was back then.
I was so stunned and saddened that I literally couldn't move. I had been listening to The Carpenters music all my life, and suddenly I felt as if it had all been yanked out from under me, and taken away forever.
The harsh reality is that this precious gift of music was taken away from all of us -- and far too soon.
Perhaps it was because I was such a fan of her music that I find the death of Karen Carpenter to be one of the most tragic celebrity deaths that I can remember.
On the morning of February 4, 1983, Karen woke up and went downstairs to the kitchen to start the coffee. She set two places at the table for breakfast - for both of her parents.
Ironically, Karen did not set a place for herself.
Just a few minutes later, Karen's mother found her face down on the floor in her bedroom closet.
When paramedics arrived, they worked frantically to revive her. Karen's heart was beating only once every 10 seconds, which is a sure sign of a dying heart.
Upon arrival at the hospital, Karen was in full cardiac arrest, and not breathing. Physicians tried for nearly half an hour to resuscitate her, but the medical team pronounced the death of Karen Carpenter at 9:51 A.M.
At approximately 2:30 P.M, an autopsy was performed. Although Karen was within her normal weight range at the time (108 lbs.), the autopsy report listed emetine cardiotoxicity as the primary cause of death.
Obviously this was a complication of both anorexia nervosa and ipecac abuse.
Emetine is the residual effect of ipecac poisoning where traces are left in the body even after chronic use has ceased.
Emetine was found in Karen's liver during the autopsy. In other words, the damage was done, even if she was no longer using ipecac syrup.
Cardiotoxicity means that there was damage to the heart muscle.
Anorexia is known to cause muscle atrophy, so one can pretty much figure out that Karen's illness forced her body to shut down. It was tired and worn out from years of stress and laxative abuse.
The world of music - and the lives of her loved ones - have never been the same since the death of Karen Carpenter. She was just 32 years old.
Learn how to recognize anorexia symptoms in your loved ones before it's too late.
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