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What Caused Karen Carpenter's Death?

MrRING

Android Futureman
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So I'm a fan of Karen Carpenter - sue me!
Now, most folks are familiar with her story, and know that anorexic behaviors were the main reason for her untimely demise. Having seen Karen Carpenter Superstar and read about her life, I really thought that her death was caused by vomiting food up.

But the thing is, it didn't make sense the more I've thought about it, and it started to bug me. A woman with as fine a voice as Karen would undoubtedly changed her voice for the worse, but I've not heard a change in her tone in her music throughout. The current Wikipedia entry has something interesting though and leads to a different direction for her purging.
By late 1981, Carpenter was using thyroid replacement medication, which she obtained using the name of Karen Burris, to increase her metabolism. She used the medication in conjunction with increased consumption of the laxatives (up to 80–90 tablets per night) upon which she had long relied, which caused food to pass quickly through her digestive tract. Despite Levenkron's treatment, including confiscation of medications that Karen had misused, her condition continued to deteriorate, and she lost more weight. Carpenter told Levenkron that she felt dizzy and that her heart was beating irregularly. Finally, in September 1982, she was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, where she was placed on intravenous parenteral nutrition. The procedure was successful, and she gained some weight in a relatively short time, but this put a strain on her heart, which was already weak from years of anorexic behaviors.[90] She maintained a relatively stable weight for the rest of her life.[91][92]
An autopsy, released on March 11, 1983, ruled out drug overdose,[104] attributing death to "emetine cardiotoxicity due to or as a consequence of anorexia nervosa".[90] Carpenter was discovered to have a blood sugar level of 1,110 milligrams per deciliter, more than ten times the average.[105] Two years later, the coroner told colleagues that Carpenter's heart failure was caused by repeated use of ipecac syrup, an over-the-counter emetic often used to induce vomiting in cases of overdosing or poisoning.[90][d] This was disputed by Levenkron, who said that he had never known her to use ipecac and that he had not seen evidence that she had been vomiting.[107] Carpenter's friends were convinced that she had abused laxatives and thyroid medication to maintain her low body weight and thought this had started after her marriage began to crumble.[89]
So we have a coroner who pushes the vomit/purge, but her friends and family believe it was an abuse of laxatives. I think that the laxitive/thyroid medication explination makes the most sense based on her own voice recordings. What do ya'll think of the evidence? Does laxative or vomiting seem the more likely case?
 
She probably had insufficient electrolytes and fluid levels as a direct result of using emetics and laxatives and this cause a heart irregularity.
The very high sugar levels in her blood were probably due to overuse of ipecac syrup.
Her heart was beating very slowly when she died.
 
She probably had insufficient electrolytes and fluid levels as a direct result of using emetics and laxatives and this cause a heart irregularity.
The very high sugar levels in her blood were probably due to overuse of ipecac syrup.
Her heart was beating very slowly when she died.
I agree - the poor woman was gulping laxatives every day, and eating practically nothing.
Her heart just couldn't take it, lack of nutrition, she looked as thin as a rail. :(
Such a beautiful voice, and everything to live for.
 
I don't know. If she was anorexic, that may have been caused by a combination of vomiting, purging, calorie restriction, laxatives, etc. She likely used several different methods, and these changed over time. If she was careful with all the methods, she wouldn't have to vomit daily, or she could have trained herself to vomit gently and then rinsed her mouth and esophagus afterward. Her voice would be unchanged. I knew an anorexic who was very careful with the vomiting and rinsing. She died of something else, but the decades of poor nutrition were a contributing factor.

The primary cause was her emotional illness which motivated her to starve herself to death. The proximate causes were all the methods listed above.
 
The video is enlightening.

Poor Karen's remains were so haggard, at her funeral she was covered with a sort of full-length veil to soften her appearance for mourners.

In 2003 Karen's remains and those of her parents were moved from Forest Lawn Cypress to a mausoleum in Valley Oaks Memorial Park near to Richard Carpenter's home.

Customers of the Dearly Departed Tours company can view the actual bathroom sink from Karen's last home. It is presumably the one next to which she died. It was later procured by a friend of the narrator.

I needn't have bothered taking a poor quality photo of the sink on my screen. It's on open display at the Dearly Departed Tours Museum, alongside alongside treasures like May West's dentures and the car that Jayne Mansfield died in, complete with bloodstains.

Didn't we have a thread on death scene tours? It's big business.
 

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So I'm a fan of Karen Carpenter - sue me!
Now, most folks are familiar with her story, and know that anorexic behaviors were the main reason for her untimely demise. Having seen Karen Carpenter Superstar and read about her life, I really thought that her death was caused by vomiting food up.

But the thing is, it didn't make sense the more I've thought about it, and it started to bug me. A woman with as fine a voice as Karen would undoubtedly changed her voice for the worse, but I've not heard a change in her tone in her music throughout. The current Wikipedia entry has something interesting though and leads to a different direction for her purging.


So we have a coroner who pushes the vomit/purge, but her friends and family believe it was an abuse of laxatives. I think that the laxitive/thyroid medication explination makes the most sense based on her own voice recordings. What do ya'll think of the evidence? Does laxative or vomiting seem the more likely case?
I think her heart was damaged as a result of the abuse she'd given her body over the years
 
A relative died last year in the same way. She was 41 and in the end refused medical intervention. She'd had enough. poor soul.
Yikes. This stuff is so sad. I don't know personally what to do to support anorexics who are mentally/emotionally way off base. The one I knew the best was proud that she still weighed the same as when she was 13 years old. She weighed herself several times a day. Counted calories. Laxatives, vomiting, etc.
 
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