Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner died last Wednesday at age 91 of two main causes — cardiac arrest (a sudden stopping of the heart) and a bacterial infection.
The infection was triggered by E. coli, a common bacteria that is often survivable in adults but can cause complications in older people and young children, according to a Los Angeles Health Department death certificate obtained on Tuesday by TMZ and reported by the Los Angeles Times. Hefner’s infection — which lasted six days — failed to respond to antibiotics; the certificate listed it as “highly resistant” to the drugs.
This is part of a growing problem. After years of antibiotic abuse in people and animals — with doctors practically doling them out like candy and farmers stirring them into animal feed — antibiotics have virtually stopped working. In January, a woman died after a raging infection she had failed to respond to 26 different kinds of antibiotics. The bacteria have outsmarted us, and they’re stronger than ever.
Most people are exposed to E. coli in contaminated food or water. Raw vegetables and undercooked ground beef are two of the most common sources. Typically, the infection only lasts about a week, but in older people and young children, the infection can go on to cause a life-threatening form of kidney failure.
It’s unclear whether or not Hefner suffered from any kidney issues. None are listed on his death certificate. Another cause of death that is listed, however, is septicemia — a severe and sometimes deadly complication that results from a severe infection. As part of the body’s attempt to fight an infection, it unleashes inflammation. But this reaction can go into overdrive, triggering swelling throughout the body and sometimes causing multiple organs to fail.
Hefner was born on April 9, 1926 and founded Playboy magazine in 1953.
“I’m never going to grow up,” Hefner said in a CNN interview when he was 82. “Staying young is what it is all about for me. Holding on to the boy and long ago I decided that age really didn’t matter and as long as the ladies … feel the same way, that’s fine with me.”
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