Video Interview with Tim Russert's Doctor -- Cause of Death Was a Fresh Clot in LAD

First interview with Tim Russert's doctor. Source: RedLasso. Link via GruntDoc.

On the afternoon of June 13, 2008, Russert collapsed at the offices of WRC-TV, which houses the Washington, D.C. bureau of NBC News, while recording voiceovers for the Sunday edition of Meet the Press. Despite immediate attempts at resuscitation by EMS and transportation to Sibley Memorial Hospital, Russert never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead a short time later at 4:15 p.m.

An autopsy, performed on the day of his death, determined that his history of diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease led to sudden cardiac death. The immediate cause of death was an occlusive coronary thrombus. On the special reports program, Russert's friend Dr. Michael Newman stated that the autopsy showed coronary artery disease in the left anterior descending artery, and a fresh blood clot was visible on one of these plaques. He had a negative stress test less than 2 months ago.

Tim Russert was in Italy for a family vacation and had just returned home but the autopsy did not show findings of PE. Source: Wikipedia.

Colleague and former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw broke the news on the network Friday: "He will be missed as he was loved -- greatly." Source: CNN.

Blood clot in the left anterior descending artery (LAD)

There is a mnemonic for some of the risk factors for CAD -- OBESE:

Blood pressure (hypertension)
Elevated LDL, low HDL
Elevated glucose (diabetes)

What Happened to Russert: The science of sudden cardiac arrest. Newsweek, 06/2008.
Bloggers and Heart Attacks
AltaVista Founder Dies of a Heart Attack at 42
Popular tech blogger Mark Orchant died of heart attack at 50
Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.

Updated: 06/04/2008


  1. One cardiologist's opinion:

    People always seem surprised when a stress test does not pick up potentially fatal coronary artery disease. Stress tests, with or without nuclear or echo imaging, can only pick up disease in arteries narrowed more than 70%

    Unfortunately, most acute heart attacks result from the rupture of plaques with less than 70% narrowing (because there are simply many more of them). The best tests for detecting plaques with only mild narrowing are a CT calcium score or a CT angiogram (even better than catheterization which may miss plaque with minimal stenosis). Although these tests have been available for 10 and 5 years respectively, many insurance companies label them "experimental." Medicare, however, does pay for them.

    Russert, as a patient with asymptomatic coronary artery disease," must have had at least one of these tests and should have been on aspirin, a beta-blocker, and a statin drug (possibly in combination with other meds) to keep his LDL cholesterol under 70 and his HDL cholesterol above 40. Was he? His doctors have not been forthcoming.

  2. Tim Russert and George Carlin

    Two beloved American celebrities have succumbed to heart disease before their time. The national response has been disappointment in a medical system that could allow this to happen. What could have been done differently to save the lives of both Tim and George, to avoid this fatal outcome?

    To read more...Saving Tim Russert and George Carlin by Jeffrey Dach MD

    Jeffrey Dach MD
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  3. Heart attacks are less likely for non-smokers as compared to the smokers. According to WHO, individuals who quit smoking decrease their risk of CAD one year later by 50 %. If you have quit smoking, for 15 years, your risk of dying from CAD is almost as low as a life time non-smoker.