Surfer Andy Irons died of heart attack: family

Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:54am EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three-time world surfing champion Andy Irons died at age 32 from a heart attack he suffered 30 hours after apparently taking cocaine, his family members said in releasing results of an autopsy and toxicology report.

Irons, regarded as one of the world's greatest competitive surfers and big-wave riders, was found dead in November in a hotel home in Dallas, Texas. It was reported then that he was suffering from the severe tropical disease dengue fever.

An autopsy conducted by a medical examiner in Texas ruled out dengue fever and found Irons died from cardiac arrest due to a severe blockage of a main artery of the heart, his family said in a statement.

The family asked independent forensic pathologist Dr. Vincent Di Maio to review the autopsy report, and he concluded Irons suffered from hardening of the arteries.

"A plaque of this severity, located in the anterior descending coronary artery, is commonly associated with sudden death," Di Maio said in a statement.

The doctor also said that while hardening of the arteries usually begins to appear in people nearing the age of 50, Irons had a "genetic predisposition" to early development of the disease.

The family said Irons caught typhoid fever five years ago, which could have resulted in damage to his heart muscle.

The autopsy report lists a secondary cause of death as "acute mixed drug ingestion," and cited the presence of Xanax, which Irons used to treat anxiety and insomnia, in his system, according to the family.   Continued...

<p>Andy Irons of Hawaii rides a wave during the fourth round of the Billabong Pro surfing tournament on the legendary reef break in Tehaupoo, Tahiti, May 15, 2008. REUTERS/Joseba Etxaburu</p>