Comedian Joan Rivers Dies at 81

Rivers entered medically induced coma after cardiac arrest during surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Joan Rivers, one of the first and best-known female comics of international fame, died Sept. 4 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

The beloved, 81-year-old comic went into cardiac arrest during a surgery on her vocal cords last week, reports The Guardian. Doctors then put Rivers on life support and induced a coma in an effort to save her life. 

In a Sept. 4 press statement, Rivers's daughter, Melissa Rivers, said her mother died peacefully and thanked the hospital staff for the care they provided.

"Discuss all the risks of elective surgeries with your surgeon."

Medically induced comas are sometimes used in patients with extreme injuries like head trauma or life-threatening conditions like cardiac arrest.

The desired effect is to slow down the functions of the body to limit damage, reports Scientific American. 

Doctors normally use sedative medicines like propofol (brand name Diprivan) in large doses to induce comas, reports the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

Before doctors induced a coma in Rivers, she had gone into cardiac arrest during a minor outpatient surgery, according to The New York Times.

A 2011 study found that 1.1 patients for every 10,000 went into cardiac arrest during surgery requiring anesthesia. The surgeries were not heart-related. The study, published in the Chinese Medical Journal, also found that 39 percent of those patients survived the cardiac arrest.

New York health authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding Rivers' death and have not, as of publication time, released an official statement.

Review Date: 
September 4, 2014
Last Updated:
September 6, 2014