How did Elvis die?
It has been widely reported that Elvis Presley died in 1977 from cardiac arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, possibly brought on by drug dependency, obesity, and a weak heart. But the music legend’s longtime friend and physician, Dr. George “Nick” Nichopoulos, has put pen to paper for the first time and revealed his belief that it was chronic constipation that actually killed the King of Rock and Roll.
According to Dr. Nick, the autopsy revealed Presley’s colon was 5 to 6 inches in diameter (whereas the normal width is 2 to 3 inches) and instead of being the standard 4 to 5 feet long, his colon was 8 to 9 feet in length.
“The constipation upset him quite a bit because Elvis thought that he could handle almost anything, he thought he was really a man’s man and he wasn’t going to let something like this … he thought that this was a sign of weakness and he wasn’t going to be weak,” Nichopoulos said. “And it’s not the kind of thing you table talk. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s you didn’t talk about constipation much, you didn’t hear people complaining about it, or saying what they did or how much trouble they had with it.”
In 1975, the primary treatment for this problem involved removing part of the colon, known as a colostomy, and at the time Dr. Nick was in talks with a surgeon at the University of Memphis to perform the procedure. However, Presley’s ego got in the way.
“He would get embarrassed, he’d have accidents onstage. He’d have to change clothes and come back because of the way we were trying to treat his constipation,” Nichopoulos said. “So if they had done the colostomy then, he’d probably still be here. But it wasn’t acceptable treatment at that time. Now the treatment is short.”
Nichopoulos also believes that Presley’s prominent weight gain in the years prior to his death was not a result of overeating or eating the wrong foods, as they initially assumed. The doctor reveals Elvis’ bloated appearance was due to his severe constipation.
“It was a physiological problem. During the last few years we were going back and comparing pictures, some of them were taken just two weeks apart but he looked like he’d gained 20 pounds when the only difference was that he had a good healthy bowel movement and then lost a lot of weight from that,” Dr. Nick explained. “Usually you pass it all in two or three days, but at the autopsy we found stool in his colon which had been there for four or five months because of the poor motility of the bowel.”
I could have saved Elvis.
-Paula D. Schlue
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