B.B. King’s killer – Multi-infarct Dementia.
“Dr. Darin Brimhall and Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg told The Associated Press on Friday that the medical term for the cause of death is multi-infarct dementia,” a form of “vascular dementia”.
I’m particularly familiar with MID. My Mom had a MID event – then lived for another ten years in a vegetative state, curled up in a fetal position, unable to speak, move, eat, bath. Even her eyes were empty of thought. She couldn’t tell us what happened inside. She couldn’t do anything.
What is Multi-Infarct Dementia? The way it was explained to me was that a series of small blood vessels in her brain burst, cutting off blood to numerous areas of the brain, depriving brain cells of oxygen – killing them. Neurons don’t repair themselves like other cells in the body. If you want to visualize an infarct, it’s like a blood vessel that bursts in the eye as sometimes happens. It’s ugly and it feels like it takes forever to heal. In the eye, the infarct does heal. In the brain, that infarct is a permanent loss. Add up dozens or hundreds or thousands of small infarcts at the same time and you’ve got multi-infarct dementia. That’s as opposed to the blockage of an artery in the brain – which is called a stroke, or a CVA.
A stroke can be treated if caught in time using a drug called TPA (Maine Medical Center was an early test-site for TPA in the 80’s). It dissolves the clot that was blocking the artery. Also, on a large scale, a ruptured artery, and an aneurysm, can be repaired with a stint inserted through your leg. (Don’t ask). In the micro world though, there’s little that can be done when numerous infarcts happen at once.
In B.B.King’s case, the infarcts were attributed his longstanding battle with type 2 diabetes. “If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.” [source: diabetes.org]. Insulin imbalances take a toll on many parts of the body.
In my Mom’s case, it was never officially diagnosed but the MID was probably due to high blood pressure, or a stressful event, overexertion or an argument with my sister.
I suspect everyone will miss the blues of B.B.King. He had good stuff right up til the end.
My mother – smoked three packs of cigarettes a day for over 60 years and had the healthiest lungs – clear as a bell on her last xrays. Who’da thunk she’d die from something other than lung cancer.
I’m not convinced that any change in one’s lifestyle really alters the outcome. I’d rather die fat and happy than on some miserable diet.
Bye Bye B.B. – took one for the team.