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Format: 04/25/2014
Format: 04/25/2014


KDKA-TV: Local doctors from Allegheny General Hospital weigh in on Jackson's final moments

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

The news of Michael Jackson's sudden death Thursday afternoon was a shock to so many around the world.

It is believed that the music legend suffered cardiac arrest in his Los Angeles home.

Cardiac arrest is when blood stops circulating because the heart stops pumping. It can happen because of abnormal heart rhythms, fluid and body chemistry imbalances, dead heart muscle and drugs.

There's a question of whether the drug Demerol, which is a narcotic pain killer, played a role.

"If it's true that he was on pain medications, pain medications can lead to death," says Dr. Tony Farah, a cardiologist at Allegheny General Hospital.

These drugs can lower blood pressure, slow breathing and cause heart rhythm abnormalities.

No matter the cause, doctors say getting the heart restarted quickly is important to prevent brain damage.

"His personal physician, who was with him at the time, attempted to resuscitate him," said Jermaine Jackson, Michael's brother, during a statement to the press at UCLA Medical Center.

"Every minute that goes by beyond the first five minutes carries a very poor prognosis. Statistically better than 90 percent of people don't make it," Dr. Farah said.

Paramedics took Jackson to UCLA Medical Center where emergency treatment continued for more than an hour.

"CPR would continue with chest compressions, and multiple different medications will be given to try to get the heart to start back up again," says Dr. Fred Harchelroad, an emergency medicine physician and toxicologist at Allegheny General Hospital.

"The fact that they spent another hour trying to resuscitate him tells me they were never able to get any meaningful heart rhythm or function, and obviously breathing back," says Dr. Farah.

To read more or see the video, visit the KDKA-TV web site.

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