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Dick Clark | A Cardiovascular Tragedy

Dick Clark

By Charlotte Libov

Back in 2012, millions around the world were saddened to learn of Dick Clark’s death, but Dr. Chauncey Crandall believes that his fatal heart attack might have been averted if the iconic TV New Year’s Eve host had undergone appropriate cardiac screening before undergoing an elective surgical procedure the day before.

“Dick Clark was the perfect candidate for a massive heart attack, but it might not have happened if he had been properly screened, said Dr. Crandall. Such screening might have ruled out the procedure, or indicated other precautions that needed to be taken, he added. According to Dr. Crandall, the 82-year-old had numerous risk factors that put him in danger of suffering a heart attack under such circumstances, including his advanced age, his history of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, past smoking, and the major stroke he suffered in 2004.Clark was admitted to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., for an outpatient procedure Tuesday night. He suffered massive heart attack Wednesday morning following the procedure, and attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, according to a statement from his publicist that was reported by Fox News. Although Dr. Crandall did not know for what, if any, screening Clark had received he has seen this scenario many times before, he said.“Any type of surgery, no matter what it is, creates a great deal of stress on the body and creates a whole host of inflammatory coagulation factors that makes a patient more prone to a cardiac event,” said Dr. Crandall, who is chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Mount Sinai Heart New York Palm Beach in Palm Beach County, Fla.Because Clark was undergoing an elective procedure, there was ample time for a host of screening tests to be performed and their results reviewed before going ahead with the outpatient procedure, he noted. In addition, he should have had the procedure done at a hospital that has extensive cardiac facilities that could be used in the event that something went wrong.According to Dr. Crandall, a patient in Clark’s condition should have undergone the following pre-operative screening tests and procedures:

  • A consultation with his internist or family doctor and cardiologist to review the elective procedure
  • A second opinion to make certain the procedure is necessary
  • An exercise stress test to test the heart’s ability to withstand the stress of surgery
  • A blood test to check for elevated cholesterol levels, as well as clotting disorders or inflammatory markers that would make a heart attack more likely
  • An echo-cardiogram to access the heart’s function

“The bottom line that we can learn from this is that anytime you have elective surgery you need to be properly evaluated to find out if you have underlying coronary disease and if your heart can withstand it,” said Dr. Crandall.

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