Kaiser CEO Unexpectedly Dies in His Sleep at 60! Be Proactive
By: Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
Some people say that the best way to die is peacefully in your sleep. I agree. But not when you are as young as 60-years-old!
Recently, Kaiser Permanente CEO and Chairman Bernard Tyson died in his sleep. (You can read the statement from Kaiser regarding Tyson’s death, here). I will be turning 60 in about two months. So this story really touched a nerve.
Tyson was the first African-American CEO of Kaiser. And he was, in fact, just 60-years-old. The statement from Kaiser and news reports say that he passed away in his sleep unexpectedly, however, at the moment we don’t have any information on the exact cause of his death. According to one report, “Kaiser Permanente did not disclose the cause of Tyson’s sudden death.”
I find this story not only tragic but also particularly disturbing that someone so young and who appeared to be healthy died in his sleep. Other people appear to share the same sentiment, which you can see from these tweets.
If you really look at those tweets, you will see that some interesting points were made. Some people pointed to the fact that Tyson was African-American (life expectancy tends to be lower for this racial group). One person tweeted, “Did he not take advantage of preventive health screenings? He should have had every test in the book.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average life expectancy for Americans is 78.6 years. The CDC also reports that the average life expectancy for African-American males is 71.9 and for African-American females it is 78.5. But, of course, these estimates in no way definitively determine how long you will live despite your race or gender.
Take, for example, some of our favorite stars. Quincy Jones is 86. Actress Cicely Tyson is 94, and actress and comedian Betty White is 97 (soon to be 98). Judge Wapner passed away at 97, and Hugh Hefner died at the age of 91.
And the world’s oldest man, Masazo Nonaka, died at age 113!
People with such longevity may just be lucky. But I can’t stress enough the importance of being proactive about your health. This is not to suggest that Tyson was not proactive about his health care. We just don’t know much at this point.
So is dying in one’s sleep a common thing?
This is a pretty tough question to answer, because there is no credible aggregate data on how many people die in their sleep every year (for example). And I want to make it clear that there is no clear evidence that sleep itself may be the cause of death. However, certain disorders may cause us to sleep too much and cause death.
The top causes of death for Americans are:
- Heart disease
- Accidents (unintentional injuries)
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases (such as emphysema)
- Alzheimer's disease
- Influenza and pneumonia
- Kidney disease
One source suggests that Tyson died of a heart attack while sleeping - which is definitely a possibility. However, I am a bit skeptical of this claim. The statement from Kaiser did not disclose the cause of death and many reputable news sources say that the cause of death is unknown.
And keep in mind, “If you’re told an acquaintance has died in his or her sleep, it might mean the cause of death is unclear – or the family just wants to maintain privacy,” according to one U.S. News report.
But people, even young people, can die in their sleep. Twenty-year-old actor Cameron Boyce, who had epilepsy, died in his sleep due to a seizure. And according to one report, a 28-year-old dad died of a heart attack while sleeping. He was said to have had undiagnosed heart disease. Furthermore, Food Network celebrity chef Carl Ruiz reportedly died of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 44.
And a 36-year-old mom of four who appeared to be healthy died of sleep due to heart complications. Her husband said that she had experienced an irregular heartbeat in the past, but the doctors said it was nothing to worry about, according to this report. Her cause of death was cardiac sarcoidosis.
People may also die in their sleep from a condition called sleep apnea.
So how can we be proactive?
The pH Labs team always stresses the importance of certain lifestyle habits such as staying nutritionally balanced and being physically active. This way, you can reduce the likelihood of disease or quickly recover from illnesses.
You can do this by exercising regularly and eating a nutrient-rich diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and herbs and spices. It is also important to avoid smoking, drink alcohol in moderation if you do drink, watch your salt (sodium) and monitor consumption of nutrient-void, processed foods such as cakes, potato chips and other junk foods.
You also want to make sure that you are nutritionally balanced by taking routine nutrient tests. A nutrient test will determine if you have any nutrient imbalances or deficiencies which may cause health issues. If you do, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements if necessary.
Now, proactive care really stresses the importance of health testing. For example, so much heart disease goes undiagnosed, because many people don’t have any symptoms (heart disease is also known as “the silent killer”). And there are those people with the mindset that if they feel healthy, they don’t need to go to the doctor.
It is critical to get regular physicals and take the tests needed to look at your heart, brain and other vital organs (especially if you have metabolic issues such as being overweight or obese and/or have a history of certain diseases in your family).
Read here to learn about the nine primary screening tests you may want to ask your doctor about. And read here about health tests you should consider having once you reach the age of 40 even if you feel very healthy. Also never underestimate the importance of getting a colonoscopy.
In addition to the nutrient tests, other health tests you can take include:
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.