Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of the legendary singer Elvis Presley, passed away on January 12, 2023, at the age of 54. Her death shocked and saddened many fans and celebrities who knew her as a talented musician and a devoted mother. But what was the cause of her death and how did it relate to a surgery she had undergone years before? Here is an update on the tragic story of Lisa Marie Presley’s cause of death.
A Small Bowel Obstruction
According to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s report, Lisa Marie Presley died of natural causes due to a “sequelae of a small bowel obstruction”. A small bowel obstruction is a condition where the small intestine is blocked by something, preventing the passage of food and fluids. This can lead to serious complications such as infection, tissue death, or perforation of the bowel.
There are many possible causes of a small bowel obstruction, such as hernias, tumors, or foreign objects. In Lisa Marie Presley’s case, the report stated that the obstruction was caused by “adhesions (or, scar tissue) that developed after bariatric surgery years ago”. Bariatric surgery is a type of weight-loss surgery that reduces the size of the stomach or bypasses part of the small intestine. It can help people who are obese or have obesity-related health problems lose weight and improve their quality of life.
However, bariatric surgery also has some risks and side effects, such as bleeding, infection, or nutritional deficiencies. One of the long-term complications of bariatric surgery is the formation of adhesions, which are bands of scar tissue that can stick together different parts of the abdomen. Adhesions can cause pain, inflammation, or obstruction of the bowel. According to the medical examiner’s report, this was a “known long term complication of this type of surgery”.
A Cardiac Arrest
Lisa Marie Presley was rushed to a hospital in Calabasas, California, after suffering an apparent cardiac arrest at her home on January 12. A cardiac arrest is a sudden loss of heart function that stops blood circulation and oxygen delivery to vital organs. It can be caused by various factors, such as heart disease, trauma, or drug overdose. However, in Lisa Marie Presley’s case, the cardiac arrest was triggered by the small bowel obstruction.
According to Dr. Folasade P. May, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA and director of the Gastroenterology Quality Improvement Program, Lisa Marie Presley “developed a cardiac arrest because she had a severe complication from the small bowel obstruction”. She explained that when the bowel is obstructed, it can cause pressure buildup, inflammation, infection, or perforation. These can lead to sepsis (a life-threatening response to infection), shock (a drop in blood pressure), or ischemia (a lack of blood flow). Any of these conditions can affect the heart and cause it to stop beating.
Dr. May also said that some of the medications found in Lisa Marie Presley’s blood may have contributed to her condition. The autopsy report revealed that she had therapeutic levels of oxycodone (a painkiller), quetapine metabolite (an antidepressant), and buprenorphine (another painkiller). Dr. May said that these drugs may have “slowed down the motility of the intestine and would have made it perhaps more likely” for it to get “obstructed by the adhesions”.
A Legacy Remembered
Lisa Marie Presley was buried next to her son Benjamin Keough, who died by suicide in 2020. She is survived by her mother Priscilla Presley and her three other children: Riley Keough, Finley Lockwood, and Harper Lockwood. She also left behind a legacy as a singer and songwriter who released three albums over her career. She was also known for her four high-profile marriages: to Danny Keough (the father of her two eldest children), Michael Jackson (the pop icon), Nicolas Cage (the actor), and Michael Lockwood (the musician).
Lisa Marie Presley was loved by many for her talent, beauty, and kindness. She also faced many challenges and struggles in her life, such as addiction, divorce, and grief. Her death was a tragic outcome of a surgery that she had hoped would improve her health and happiness. Her fans and family will always remember her as the daughter of Elvis Presley who carved her own path in music and life.