MedHelp.org will cease operations on May 31, 2024. It has been our pleasure to join you on your health journey for the past 30 years. For more info, click here.
20794198 tn?1534529493

Family members recent autopsy came back as "unascertainable" ?

Hi group. As the title says, my dads brother died earlier this year and after a few months of investigating his death has returned as unascertainable! He did smoke, a lot! But the pathologist states it wasn't thought to be his heart that was the cause (in the setting of myocardial infarction) as they would have visibly seen this in the form of scar tissue or heart muscle damage. He was 50 years of age and did not have any known seizure conditions and toxicology came back negative too. What does that leave then? Cardiac arrhythmia or a one off serious seizure?
1 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
134578 tn?1716963197
Many things can cause death suddenly. We see on TV that the medical examiner finds the cause of death all the time, but if it's too complex or the body's tissues are deteriorated, a pathologist might reach the limit of the resources available to determine exactly why someone died. Are you concerned that there's something you should watch out for in your own genetic mix? You might call the pathologist and tell him who you are and what your concerns are. But you might not get a response due to privacy laws.
Helpful - 1
Hey Annie,

Yeah, basically I do worry about some genetic predisposition for something like an arrythmia disorder perhaps. The back story in short is that my relative in question, he was 55 years of age and he lacked full mental capacity as he was schizophrenic. He did not "do" doctors as far as we are aware and god knows when he last had any check up was. We are 99% certain that any chest pain would have been ignored or simply mis interpreted as nothing.  He did smoke at least .. at least 30 cigarettes a day for 30 years so we presume it must be either lung or heart related. I am shocked still to see that the evidence wasn't picked up on the initial autopsy though. Its my understanding that heart damage is easily visible and even more hard to spot things like heart inflammation or virus's can also be seen this day and age very easily.
You might be going down a rabbit hole in being upset that the pathologist didn't see what you assume to be your uncle's cause of death. When you say you're "shocked" that "the evidence wasn't picked up" in the autopsy, it sounds like you're saying you know for sure that he had heart or lung damage. But even some heavy smokers get away with the habit without life-threatening heart or lung damage. The point I was trying to make in my answer above is that he could have died of something totally different.

I knew someone who died suddenly but his body wasn't found for several days. A cause of death was never assigned 'for sure," there was too much deterioration and no real need to know (he had no wife or children, and foul play was not suspected). The pathologist's best guess was that an enlarged blood vessel had suddenly broken in his esophagus -- these are called esophageal varices, and can kill someone within minutes. (Bet you've never heard of one, right? Either had I.) It was entirely unexpected that he died, he was only 50.

People die from many flukey causes. Even mixing two household cleansers and then breathing the fumes can kill you (ammonia + bleach -- don't do it). Falling and hitting the corner of a table can do it. Hidden congenital weaknesses that were never a problem before can suddenly fail, and the person dies. I appreciate your concern about your own heart health, but the pathologist might just be a good doctor who doesn't write something as a cause of death if there isn't evidence that it was.

You are reading content posted in the Men's Health Community

Top Men's Health Answerers
1622896 tn?1562364967
London, United Kingdom
139792 tn?1498585650
Indore, India
Avatar universal
Southwest , MI
Learn About Top Answerers
Popular Resources
STDs can't be transmitted by casual contact, like hugging or touching.
Syphilis is an STD that is transmitted by oral, genital and anal sex.
Discharge often isn't normal, and could mean an infection or an STD.
Chlamydia, an STI, often has no symptoms, but must be treated.
Bumps in the genital area might be STDs, but are usually not serious.
Get the facts about this disease that affects more than 240,000 men each year.