Music legend Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977, at the age of 42 in Memphis, Tennessee.
According to History.com, Presley’s cause of death was a heart attack, “likely brought on by his addiction to prescription barbiturates.”
His cause of death is back in the news after his only child, Lisa Marie Presley, died after suffering cardiac arrest on January 12, 2023, The Associated Press reported. She, too, had struggled with drug addiction throughout the years as well as the grief of losing a child to suicide, according to RadarOnline.
Here’s what you need to know about the cause of death of Elvis Presley:
1. Elvis Presley’s Girlfriend Found Him ‘Unconscious’ in the Bathroom
According to PBS, Elvis Presley was discovered “unconscious” by his girlfriend, Ginger Alden, “lying face down in the master suite bathroom on the second floor of his Memphis mansion, Graceland.”
According to PBS, Elvis Presley was rushed by ambulance to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where “doctors struggled to revive him without success and Presley was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm.”
This is similar to his daughter, who was discovered unresponsive in her home, rushed to a hospital, and then pronounced dead, according to TMZ.
The Sun reported that Presley suffered from “chronic constipation and a post-mortem found he had a compacted stool that was four months old sitting in his bowel.”
He was “cold, blue, and had no vital signs” and had likely been dead for an hour when paramedics arrived at Graceland, The Sun reported, adding that Elvis Presley may have been sitting on the toilet when he collapsed.
2. A Toxicology Report Found High Levels of Prescription Drugs in Elvis Presley’s Bloodstream
According to USA Today, a toxicology report showed that Elvis Presley’s blood “was found to have had extremely high levels of the opiates Dilaudid, Percodan, Demerol and codeine, as well as Quaaludes.”
You can read a transcription of Elvis Presley’s autopsy report here. It gives his cause of death as “H.C.V.D. associated with ASHD” or “Hypertensive Cardiovascular Disease associated with Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease.”
The report says he was “found on floor of dressing room” by a person who had “been sleeping in adjoining room.” According to the autopsy report, there was “no indication of foul play. Had been ok in early AM.”
The report also notes that he had been playing racquetball recently.
3. Elvis Presley’s Mother & Uncles Also Died Young
According to Elvis History Blog, Gladys Presley, the mother of Elvis Presley, died “of a heart attack” at the age of 46, the cause of death given in an Associated press story from the time.
“Vernon Presley said he was aroused at 3 a.m. by his wife, Gladys, ‘suffering for breath.’ He called her physician, but she was dead by the time he arrived,” the blog reported, quoting the AP story.
When Elvis Presley arrived at the hospital, the AP reported he “sank to his knees beside his mother’s bed and wept,” the blog says.
According to Daily Mail, in addition to his mother, Elvis Presley’s three maternal uncles also died young of heart or lung issues in their 40s, which the publication attributes to the fact his maternal grandparents were first cousins.
4. Lisa Marie Presley Went Into ‘Full’ Cardiac Arrest, Reports Say
According to TMZ, Elvis’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, was found in cardiac arrest in a bedroom in her California home by her housekeeper.
Her ex-husband, Danny Keough, who was living with her, tried performing CPR, and she was rushed to the hospital, TMZ reported, but she died there on January 12, 2023.
Priscilla Presley, Elvis Presley’s ex-wife and Lisa Marie Presley’s mother, confirmed her death in a statement to the Associated Press, calling Lisa Marie Presley, “the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known.”
5. Elvis Presley Was Addicted to Junk Food & a Recluse at the Time of His Death
Elvis Presley’s decline is well-known. According to History.com, in the years before his death, Elvis Presley “was in declining physical and mental health.”
After divorcing Priscilla Presley in 1973, he “developed a dangerous dependence on prescription drugs. He was also addicted to junk food and gained considerable weight,” History.com reported.
“In the last two years of his life, he made erratic stage appearances and lived nearly as a recluse,” History.com wrote.
He is buried at Graceland, according to FindaGrave.com, and his grave has become a tourist attraction.
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