Andy Irons’ Cause of Death: Heart Attack and Drugs
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office released Andy Irons’ toxicology report today, Friday, June 10, 2011, confirming reports by the New York Times that Irons died from a heart attack “associated with coronary artery disease” and “acute mixed drug ingestion.” According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner, “Autopsy revealed presence of severe coronary artery disease and the postmortem toxicology studies indicated recent use of methadone and cocaine. Both immunochemical and molecular studies were negative for Dengue and other flavivirus (agents causing Dengue fever). Although the primary and the underlying cause of death is attributed to ischemic heart disease due to coronary artery pathology, the presence of both methadone and cocaine is a significant finding especially in a death due to a sudden cardiac event and is listed as contributing to the death but not resulting in the underlying cause. The death is ruled as ‘natural.’”
The Irons family also hired Dr. Vincent Di Maio to review and interpret the report. Dr. Di Maiao disputed the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office findings, claiming that drugs did not contribute to Irons’ death. “This is a very straightforward case,” said Dr. Di Maio. “Mr. Irons died of a heart attack due to focal severe coronary atherosclerosis, i.e., ‘hardening of the arteries.’”
“We have no choice but to accept that two respected pathologists have come to different conclusions about a secondary contributing cause of death,” said the family in a statement to the press. The family did, however, acknowledge Andy Irons’ history of mood disorders and drug abuse.
According to the statement issued by the Irons family, “Andy was prescribed Xanax and Zolpidem (Ambien) to treat anxiety and occasional insomnia — a result of a bipolar disorder diagnosed by his family doctor at age 18. This is when Andy first began experiencing episodes of manic highs and depressive lows. The family believes Andy was in some denial about the severity of his chemical imbalance and tended to blame his mood swings on himself and his own weaknesses, choosing to self-medicate with recreational drugs.”
Andy Irons died in a Dallas hotel room on November 2, 2010 after withdrawing from an ASP World Tour event in Puerto Rico due to illness. An initial press release distributed by a Billabong employee alleged that Irons had died from Dengue Fever, a conclusion drawn based on interactions with the ASP Medical Staff.
The ASP was unwilling to provide contact information for the medical staff who treated Irons in Puerto Rico, although according to an ASP Press Release, “the medical staff met and exceeded protocols, offering Andy Irons the best possible care.” The Irons family also commended the ASP’s medical staff in their handling of Andy’s sickness.
Irons’ autopsy results were delayed twice by temporary injunctions. The first injunction lasted six months, and intended to abate the media frenzy over rumors of drug abuse while Andy’s wife Lyndie gave birth to the couple’s first son. The second injunction was scheduled to end June 20th, but was released on June 10th with the family’s permission.
Irons is a three-time World Champion and the first ASP World Champion to pass away.