Las Vegas showman Danny Gans died on May 1, 2009 and his cause of death has finally been released. According to the Clark County Coroner's Office, the entertainer died accidentally of hydromorphone toxicity and chronic pain syndrome.
According to Coroner Mike Murphy, Gans developed a toxic level of hydromorphone in his system, which caused his respiration to become depressed. The drug, an opiate, is used to treat chronic pain. Murphy said that a pre-existing cardiovascular condition also contributed to his death.
The drug hydromorphone is used widely for acute pain. Gans suffered from chronic pain syndrome, a condition where the body sends persistent pain signals that keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. Some suffer in the absence of any known injury or illness.
In Gans case, he had undergone shoulder surgery in November 2008. Because he was experiencing a great deal of pain many months later, his surgeon operated again in March 2009 to remove scar tissue. According to Gans' manager, the pain caused many sleepless nights for the entertainer. In their last conversation, a day prior to his untimely death, Gans told Chip Lightman that he hadn't been sleeping.
For those looking for a specific definition of hydromorphone toxicity: the drug is a habit forming potent centrally-acting analgesic. The down side is the dose-related respiratory depression and sometimes circulatory depression. Massive overdoses are rarely observed, but when they occur they may lead to circulatory system collapse.
Gans is survived by his wife Julie Gans and their three children; Andrew, Amy and Emily.
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