Carrie Fisher Died From Sleep Apnea (And Drug Use)

We’re still mourning the passing of Princess Leia (tn Carrie Fisher – one of the most delightful and witty actresses/authors/humans with whom the world had been gifted). I can’t pass an ornate gold and leather bikini and bondage collar w/chain without sighing deeply and sadly.

Carrie passed after suffering a heart attack on a plane in December of last year (aka “The Year Everyone Died“). The L.A. County Coroner’s Office has determined that her heart attack was caused by “sleep apnea” as well as other “unidentified factors,” according to People. The report also noted that she had “atherosclerotic heart disease” and that “drug use” was a factor. They’re not saying which drugs Carrie was taking but the report did note that “Fisher had taken multiple drugs prior to her death.”

This is all sorts of sad. Carrie was very open about her battle with drug addiction over the years. One of her books, Postcards From The Edge, is about her time in rehab. Her daughter, actress Billie Lourd from FOX’s Scream Queens, released a statement about the findings. It appears as though Billie is bypassing the “sleep apnea” and attributing her mom’s death to drugs and her struggle with bipolar disorder.

“My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it. She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases.

“She talked about the shame that torments people and their families confronted by these diseases. I know my Mom, she’d want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles. Seek help, fight for government funding for mental health programs. Shame and those social stigmas are the enemies of progress to solutions and ultimately a cure. Love you Momby.”

Carrie talked about battling addiction in 1987.

“I couldn’t stop, or stay stopped. It was never my fantasy to have a drug problem. I’d say, ‘Oh, f– it, I haven’t done anything for a couple of months, why not? Let’s celebrate not doing them by doing them.’ I got into trouble each time. I hated myself. I just beat myself up. It was very painful.”

Carrie (as well as her mom Debbie Reynolds, who died the day after her) are members in good standing of “The Hollywood Gone Too Soon Club.” They’re missed. These findings also remind me that I need to get used to that CPAP machine that I have been refusing to use because of the intense drool build-up. The CPAP is the worst, but I don’t want to die on a plane just yet. *frown*

Pic: Instagram


  1. Her Many Cats

    This is so sad, but I hope that this can help someone out there who may have undiagnosed sleep apnea. I had it for years and never thought sleep apnea was that big a deal until recently.A doctor diagnosed me with severe apnea several years ago but in between jobs and Medicaid I never got the chance to keep the machine. I also would wake up with the mask hurled across the room (how I did that, who knows)! Long story short I have a surgery coming up and this time a new doctor actually sat down with me and explained all of the heart damage apnea can do. I was lucky enough to get a good deal on a CPAP and just started using it this past week. I’m getting used to it and may have to try a new mask but I’m feeling much better waking up than I have in almost 20 years. Anybody out there have any advice about masks for belly/side sleepers like me?

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  3. monkeysntypewriters

    This is very close to the drug regimen of someone I love. I know it’s hard. Hugs to you.

  4. craigypants

    She also had heart disease which kills more American woman than every other cancer combined.

  5. craigypants

    Yep. Its heartbreakingly beautiful.

  6. craigypants

    Its all just so sad. Of course she would have drugs in her system, she had bi polar, manic depression. After years on those meds it cant be that good for you. I dont think it would have been street drugs as she was on an international flight 11 hours in, too difficult out of Heathrow to smuggle illegal substances. All i know is i’ll be at the first screening of The Last Jedi to see her one last time and no doubt john williams amazing princess leias theme which is a beautiful piece of music. Then ill shed several tears because i know, thats it for her and her character which i feel in love with as a young gay man😭i hope they dedicate the film to her and kenny baker the original r2d2. I miss her humour.

  7. As an ICU nurse for many years who has watched patients sleep while monitored, I can’t tell you how many have undiagnosed Sleep Apnea from severe end stage lung disease or other causes (mostly from heavy tobacco use but often nose/throat intermittant obstruction and/or obesity). It plays havoc on many systems but particularly heart and lung which work in accordance with one another. A percentage of those patients have been diagnosed and have a CPAP machine which is sadly left unused. There are fortunate ones who use it and enjoy the restful sleep it brings; the results can be dramatic. Still, there are others who are informed and too vain to sleep with the face or nose apparatus and then finally those who need it and cannot quite qualify. I know of countless incidences when use of the mask avoided or shortened the hospital stay. In the case of a person with other obstructive causes, who also is inclined to use prescription or illicit drugs, employing the machine for apnea might make the difference between waking up and a celestial exit.

  8. I wake up like that sometimes – feels like I’m choking & I get coughing fits – didn’t know that is what is happening. Scary

  9. Sleep Apnea is dangerous – my Nana had it & died of a heart attack in her sleep & my brother has it – he sleeps with this mask that pumps oxygen into him because he stops breathing a lot during his sleep.

  10. Che's Hot Rod (Ben)

    I think it is. But is it necessary?

  11. Guest54321

    Cpap causes drool? Unpleasant. Damn.

  12. Sneaky pantsuit

    LOL! Partners in crime, I’ll bet. What a pair of cuties. Makes me feel better, anyway.

  13. Patchcord Adams

    Every night I take lithium, lamictal, wellbutrin SR, lexapro, and seroquel. Eight pills total. This is what keeps me stable. I still have issues and I still struggle. Bipolar disorder is a cruel, cruel disease. The mental health community lost two warriors in 2016: Patty Duke and Carrie Fisher. They are both very much missed.

  14. Queen Mab of the Unseelie

    Lack of sleep, waking up in the mornings with headaches, and my parents having sleep apnea.

  15. jayhawks97

    Yes. Loved it!

  16. Carrie was very open about her health problems. Does anyone recall her talking about being diagnosed with sleep apnea? I don’t. So, maybe she didn’t know she had it? Or, she knew, but chose not to do anything?

  17. i was thinking the same thing.

  18. selfpotato

    She actually talked about it on an episode of Hollywood Hauntings or something like that. A show on Reelz. She say he haunted her house after that. What’s weird for me is I had watched her episode the day before she died!!

  19. claudia mastro

    Sleep apnea sucks . I was operated on my nose on the 5th June after a very bad sleep apnea who scared the shit out of me . My nose is straight on but I had a calcification on the nose tip and call me stupid but I had no idea you could breath through your tip too. The thing lasted just few minutes and I was just sedated all the time ( I say that in case there’s someone’s here as scared of full on anesthesia as me) . Long story short I was never breathing through my nose all my life , while sleeping. It’s so different now , wow.

  20. When I sleep on my back, my soft palate collapses and covers my windpipe. I wake up gasping for air. I trained myself not to sleep on my back. Unfortunately, when I took the sleep apnea test, it didn’t happen, so I can’t get a CPAP. The point is, if I took a sleeping pill or a stiff drink or both before falling asleep, I might not be able to wake up when the soft palate covers my windpipe. That’s how some people die in their sleep.

  21. Staysassy

    I loved it. It was so sad watching it after they passed.

  22. You Ain't No Sanjaya

    Yeah, there’s a combination of not being able to take care of yourself well, (eating, sleeping, exercise) without excesses and the strain so many of the serious meds put on your liver and kidney.

  23. MissJulia

    You can use an app like SleepCycle, which will record your snoring. You have to pay premium subscription to listen, but you’d be able to hear if you were gasping for air.

  24. MissJulia

    Sleep apnea can damage your heart over time, due to the added stress of trying to keep you alive when you stop breathing.

  25. You Ain't No Sanjaya

    She probably took some kind of sleep/anti-anxiety med for the flight, in addition to whatever else she takes to maintain her bi-polar disorder. Sleep apnea is common with people who have heart issues, and sleep apnea and sleeping pills are often a bad combo.

    Considering how thin she got for Star Wars, she probably took something for weight loss too, either illicit or prescription.

    At least she went out working, fabulous, a legend, and she didn’t have to wait long to pick up her mom at the pearly gates.

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