Elvis Presley: Did ‘chronic constipation cause The King’s death? – bad health explained

Elvis Presley performs ‘Hound Dog’ in 1956

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Presley’s incredible life, which is the focus of the Baz Luhrmann film, was fast-paced and over-the-top. Overeating and drug-taking were among his activities of choice, alongside creating his spectacular music. His death on August 16, 1977 was shocking, but also mysterious, and stoked different theories. The Jailhouse Rock singer was found by his 21-year-old girlfriend lying unresponsive on the bathroom floor of his home in Graceland. His pajamas round his ankles and backside in the air.

Talking about the distressing scene in her memoir, his girlfriend Ginger Alden said the following: “His arms lay on the ground, close to his sides, palms facing upward.

“It was clear that, from the moment he landed on the floor, Elvis hadn’t moved.

“I gently turned his face toward me. A hint of air expelled from his nose.

“The tip of his tongue was clenched between his teeth and his face was blotchy.

“I gently raised one eyelid. His eye was staring straight ahead and blood red.”

The official line, according to the Medical Chief of Tennessee at the time, Doctor Jerry Francisco, was that Elvis died from heart disease.

“Elvis Presley died of heart disease, and prescription drugs found in his blood were not a contributing factor,” Francisco told American Medical News at the time.

However, others that also attended the post-mortem had different responses, which added an air of mystery to the death. The family was also notoriously quiet about it.

One of the leading theories is that the drugs and a bad diet both contributed to constipation, which itself was the main cause of a heart attack.

In Presley’s bowels, they found compacted poo that had been sitting in his bowel for four months.

At the time of his death, Presley also weighed 25 stone and had spent months locked away at home, binging on platters of cheeseburgers.

Dan Warlick, a medical expert, who was at the post-mortem said the following in the past: “Presley’s chronic constipation – the result of years of prescription drug abuse and high-fat, high-cholesterol gorging – brought on what’s known as Valsalva’s maneuver.

“Put simply, the strain of attempting to defecate compressed the singer’s abdominal aorta, shutting down his heart.”

Over his life, Presley had been a consumer of opiates. He also abused antihistamines, and tranquilizers like Valium, barbiturates, Quaaludes, sleeping pills, hormones, and laxatives.

Doctor Howard Markel writes for PBS News Hour that opiates can cause “savage constipation”.

Studies have shown that these pain-relief drugs prevent “gastric emptying” in the digestive tract, leading to the increased absorption of fluids. The lack of fluid is then known to harden poo and cause constipation.

How to prevent constipation

There are several lifestyle choices you can make to prevent constipation.

Eating lots of fibre, such as legumes, fruits, and whole-grain cereals can help.

Drinking plenty of fluids, managing stress, and staying as active as possible also reduce constipation, according to Mayo Clinic.

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