Hello, this is Seth’s mother Justine. I’d like to offer what little information I have to try to answer some of the questions that were posted about Seth’s death. We’re told that we’ll get a full coroner’s report in about 6 months. In the meantime we were given only “Cause A: Occlusive coronary artery disease” and “Other significant conditions: cardiomegaly.”
Most of you won’t be surprised to learn that Seth had not visited his doctor in Berkeley in many years, and, responding to a recent question, said that he hadn’t been to a doctor during his stay in Beijing either. We are left with 3 sets of paper records. The earliest, dated 2009, reports a Coronary Calcium (Agatston score) screening which he discussed here last October. He obtained a second screening 1-1/2 year later. The first report showed his coronary artery occlusion to be about average for a man his age, with an accompanying risk of heart attack, but no cardiomegaly. The second report, following his conclusion that butter was beneficial for him, and his heavy ingestion of it, showed an improvement in his score: “Most people get about 25% worse each year. My second scan showed regression (= improvement). It was 40% better (less) than expected (a 25% increase).” The report showed the calcification to be unevenly distributed, with most found in his left main coronary artery, and none in all but one of the other arteries. Again, no heart enlargement was reported.
The second medical report set, done in December 2011, was from Beijing and covered an exam that may have been required by his employer, Tsinghua University. This included a physical exam, an x-ray and EKG. All reports were negative, i.e., no abnormal findings and no cardiomegaly.
The third set of reports, from a laboratory in St. Charles, Ill., used data collected in Berkeley. They list toxic and essential elements in his hair. The latest report, dated July 18, 2013, showed one element rated “high.” This was mercury, “found to correlate with a 9% increase in AMI [acute myocardial infarction]” according to the report. His level was assumed to indicate exposure gained from eating fish. Presumably Beijing’s toxic smog contributed directly both to the mercury level of the fish that he ate there, and to the level in his hair.
The only information about his blood pressure was in the Beijing report where it was recorded at 117/87. I could find no information about cholesterol levels, though it has not been a familial problem. Of the remaining Framingham Study risk factors: Seth did not smoke or have diabetes. He was not overweight and was physically active. Seth’s father died of a heart attack at 72.
Of course, I can’t end this posting without sending my deepest thanks for all of the kind notes posted here. They were hurtful to read because of the reminding. They were healing to read because of the solace gained from learning about his friends and that he was able to help many people.