Johnny Tapia's death was not drug related

Celebrities, whether musicians, actors or athletes, seem to constantly struggle with drug problems, and boxer Johnny Tapia was sadly no exception.

The former champion had been suspended for testing positive for cocaine early in his career and had several other incidents, such as being hospitalized for an overdose in 2007 and a cocaine related parole violation in 2009. Therefore, when he was found dead in 2010, it is no surprise that many people assumed the death was related to illegal drug use. However, investigators have never indicated that his death was drug-related and his wife maintains that it was not.


According to Tapia’s wife Teresa, who released her husband’s autopsy report to the public to counter rumors of drug overdose, Johnny’s death was due to a combination of high blood pressure and heart disease. His high blood pressure was a known condition and he was taking medication for it as well as bipolar disorder. While a pill was found at the scene, investigators claimed it was a painkiller and that there was no evidence of an overdose.


It is possible that his heart problems were exacerbated by his illegal drug use in the past. Cocaine use constricts the blood vessels near the heart and can lead to heart attacks, and chronic use or overdoses can cause a variety of lasting damage such as damage to heart muscle or inflammation of the heart lining.


The autopsy also revealed that Tapia was suffering from the onset of Hepatitis C (HCV). HCV is transmitted through bodily fluids, like HIV, although it is theorized that Tapia’s infection occurred through one of his tattoos rather than through sexual contact. Tattoo use can as much as triple the risk of acquiring HCV; infection occurs through contaminated dies or improperly sterilized needles. The condition can also be acquired through intravenous drug use. HCV’s primary target is the liver, but it can cause heart problems indirectly.


It is often difficult to track heart problems to a single cause, particularly in people who have multiple risk factors such as former drug users. Investigators believe that Tapia’ death was probably a combination of his high blood pressure, prescription painkillers (which even when used properly and not abused can reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the heart), the onset of HCV and possibly other factors. Even though Tapia may no longer have been abusing cocaine, it likely contributed to his death. That said, it is best to remember him for the mistakes he actually made, and not lt his memory be dictated by rumors and suspicions.

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