Famous musician Roy Orbison died from heart condition


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The Texan star performed hits such as Only The Lonely, California Blue, and End Of The Line. Characteristically dressed in black and dark shades, Roy was one of the founding fathers of rock ‘n’ roll. Yet, in December 1988, The Caruso of Rock (as he was nicknamed) died at the age of 52.

The American artist had died from a heart attack while visiting his elderly mother, The New York Times reported.

Taken by ambulance to Hendersonville Hospital on December 6, 1988, Roy could not be revived and passed away just before midnight.

Nine years prior, The Big O – another moniker due to his operatic sound – had open-heart surgery in 1979.

To be specific, Roy had triple bypass surgery, which cardiologist Dr Jeffrey Lander verified is the “most common type of heart surgery for adults”.

Otherwise known as a coronary artery bypass graft, the procedure involves utilising three blood vessels elsewhere in the body to bypass damaged vessels to the heart.

The blood vessels that are used for the graft can be taken from the leg, inside the chest, or the arm.

Such an operation is done to improve blood flow to the heart muscle, which has been restricted due to coronary heart disease.

Coronary artery disease occurs when fatty material builds up in the arteries, thereby restricting blood flow.

While triple bypass surgery fixes the current problem, it does not prevent a future build-up of plaque in the arteries.

Factors that contribute to plaque build-up in the arteries include:

  • Smoking
  • High-fat diet
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Increasing age.

Dr Lander confirmed “significant lifestyle changes” are required post surgery in order to prevent further complications.

Modifications include:

  • A healthy diet, including a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated and trans fats
  • Smoking cessation
  • A healthy lifestyle
  • Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

During his lifetime, Roy endured numerous family tragedies that could have resulted in elevated stress levels.

In 1966, before his open heart surgery, his childhood sweetheart and wife, Claudette, died in a motorcycle accident.

Then, two years later, while Roy was on tour, two of their children died in a house fire.

Survived by three of his children, two of whom were with his second wife, Barbara, Roy’s personal suffering had ended.

Heart attack symptoms:

  • Chest pain – a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest
  • Pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and tummy
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
  • An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
  • Coughing or wheezing.

Any sign of a heart attack should be reported to the emergency services.

While waiting for an ambulance, if there is an aspirin nearby (and you’re not allergic), the NHS recommends slowly chewing and swallowing the tablet.

Watch Roy Orbison At The BBC, on Saturday, February 4 at 8.50pm on BBC Two.

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