ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
   movies
   music
   tv
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:
Music

Wynette autopsy finds heart failure cause of death

Medications not confirmed, ruled out as link

Wynette

May 20, 1999
Web posted at: 4:51 p.m. EDT (2051 GMT)

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) -- Almost five weeks after the body of country legend Tammy Wynette was exhumed at the insistence of her daughters, medical examiners say the results of an autopsy show that Wynette died of heart failure.

"There were no blood clots in her lungs in the autopsy, or under microscopic examination," says Davidson County medical examiner Dr. Bruce Levy. "But there was significant evidence of previous blood clots -- which compromised her lungs and put pressure on her heart."

Wynette, 55, died in April 1998 of what her personal physician, Dr. Wallis Marsh, diagnosed as a blood clot in her lungs. Such clots, along with intestinal ailments, were among several health problems suffered by the "First Lady of Country Music" in her last years.

Levy says two drugs were found in Wynette's blood, both of them medications Wynette was known to be taking at the time of her death. But he added that there was no evidence of a third drug, Dilaudid, a painkiller known to dissipate in embalming fluid.

Had he performed the autopsy earlier, Levy says, he might have been able to get a better indication of drug levels in her blood. As it is, he told reporters at a Thursday news conference, it's "virtually impossible to determine the exact drug levels at the time of Wynette's death or to what extent, if any, these drugs contributed to her heart failure and death."

Davidson County medical examiner Dr. Bruce Levy

Subject of wrongful death suit

Wynette's cause of death has been the subject of a $50 million wrongful death suit filed by three of her four daughters, alleging curious circumstances around Wynette's death, including a delay in calling the police and overprescription of drugs.

Her then-husband, George Richey, found her body, and Marsh flew down from Pittsburgh to sign the death certificate. He listed a "pulmonary embolism," or clot in the lung, as the cause of death.

Levy originally resisted the request for an autopsy, saying in February that it was evident Wynette died of natural causes. But he announced in early April that he was reconsidering the request. Her body was finally exhumed April 14 at the request of Richey, who said he wanted to "clarify for everyone how Tammy died so we can all move on."

The lawsuit alleged that Richey ignored advice to take Wynette to a hospital when she became ill, and contributed to her addiction.

While the daughters agreed earlier this month to drop Richey from the suit, it's still filed against Marsh, whom the Wynette daughters accuse of malpractice in treating their mother with large amounts of narcotics.

Marsh's lawyers say the suit has "no basis in fact," and have said in a past statement that her personal physician "provided extraordinary medical care to a person who suffered extraordinary medical problems."


RELATED STORIES:
Wynette's husband dropped from lawsuit
May 7, 1999
Wynette doctor wasn't negligent, lawyers say
April 9, 1999
Stars bid farewell to Tammy Wynette
April 9, 1998
Tammy Wynette, country music's first lady, dies at 55
April 7, 1998

RELATED SITE:
In Remembrance of Tammy Wynette - North Country Notes
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

MORE MUSIC NEWS:
Mick doesn't want world to know what he makes
B.B. King brings the blues to Big Apple
Pride to be first black member of Country Music Hall of Fame
Springsteen song prompts police protest
 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.