HONOLULU (AP) —Former surfing champion Andy Irons had several drugs in his system when he died of a heart attack at age 32 in a Dallas-area hotel room seven months ago.Irons’ family released the results of the autopsy Thursday, which show the three-time world champion from Hawaii died from sudden cardiac arrest due to severe blockage of a main artery. The official autopsy report, prepared by Tarrant County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani, also lists “acute mixed drug ingestion” as a secondary cause, but that is being disputed by the family.
According to the autopsy, Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, methadone, cocaine and a trace amount of methamphetamine were found in his system.
The family said in a statement that Irons was prescribed Xanax and Zolpidem (Ambien) to treat anxiety and occasional insomnia, a result of bipolar disorder diagnosed at age 18 when he first began “experiencing episodes of manic highs and depressive lows.”
“The family believes Andy was in some denial about the severity of his chemical imbalance and tended to blame his mood swings on himself and his own weaknesses, choosing to self-medicate with recreational drugs,” the Irons family said. “Members of his family, close friends, and an industry sponsor intervened over the years to help Andy get clean, but the effort to find balance in his life was certainly complicated by his chemical makeup.”
The surfer claimed the world championship in 2002, ’03 and ’04, and was a four-time winner of the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Irons, who is revered in Hawaii and was known in the surfing community worldwide for being fearless, humble and a fierce competitor, died Nov. 2 while on a layover while en route home to Kauai from Puerto Rico. He had withdrawn two days earlier from the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search with flu-like symptoms, been put on an intravenous drip and urged to seek medical attention but decided to return to Hawaii. According to the family, it was the first time he had withdrawn from a competition.
San Antonio forensic pathologist Dr. Vincent Di Maio, who reviewed the autopsy results for the family, called it a “very straightforward case,” where Irons died of hardening of the arteries. He said plaque produced severe narrowing, 70 to 80 per cent of his anterior descending coronary artery.
Contrary to Peerwani’s report that drugs were a secondary cause, Di Maio said: “There were no other factors contributing to the death.”
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