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Dick Clark died a day after prostate surgery
Dick Clark had a heart attack just a day after having prostate surgery, a procedure that an expert says is “exceedingly safe.”
April 24th, 2012
01:43 PM ET

Dick Clark died a day after prostate surgery

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

Hollywood producer and television legend Dick Clark died of a heart attack a day after having prostate surgery, according to a death certificate obtained by CNN.

Clark died last Wednesday at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. The day before his death, he had an operation to relieve “acute urinary retention,” an inability to urinate.

“It’s a very painful condition,” says Dr. Kevin McVary, professor of urology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The operation is “exceedingly safe” according to McVary, a spokesman with the American Urological Association.

“The mortality rate is less than one in 1,000. That’s very low risk,” he says.

The death certificate lists acute myocardial infarction and coronary artery disease as the causes of death. In December 2004, Clark suffered what was then described as "a mild stroke," just months after announcing he had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Patients with this kind of health history are usually screened by a doctor to test whether their heart is strong enough to withstand surgery, McVary says.

The surgery, known as transurethral resection of the prostate, is considered lower risk because it doesn’t involve an external incision. Instead, doctors insert a surgical tool through the tip of the penis and into the urethra, and then cut away prostate tissue to unblock the flow of urine.

It’s not known why Clark had a heart attack after this procedure. Surgery can be risky for cardiac patients. Anesthesia, for example, can be difficult on the heart, and so can blood pressure fluctuations that occur during surgery.

“Having surgery is a stressful event,” says Dr. Kenneth Rosenfield, an interventional cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “It might have been enough to tip him over.”


soundoff (244 Responses)
  1. The Dude

    Dick was no Mr/ Nice guy. He made single mothers slaves in Michigan.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dreamer

      The comment left by the dude shows he is a punk. Dick was cool

      December 31, 2012 at 22:16 | Report abuse |
  2. Bananaland

    Lawyers ruined this country. And remember, they comprise around 90% of the politicians. 'Nuff' said!

    April 25, 2012 at 10:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      The victims of medical malpractice are very happy lawyers will take their cases to hold the bad doctors responsible for the harms they caused.

      April 25, 2012 at 10:44 | Report abuse |
    • archchuzzlewit

      Nonsense. Behind every lawsuit is a client who made the independent decision to sue. Stop trying to blame lawyers for human failings. Also, plenty of med mal lawsuits are very well founded, or at least arguably necessary to find out what happened in any level of detail.

      April 25, 2012 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
    • the good of the few

      Medical malpractice lawsuits are like allowing citizens to own handguns. Vanishingly few are actually used for protection/justice while the vast majority are used for selfish money grabbing and leave a wide cone of destruction behind in society. 99% bad to support 1% good is far too expensive in anybody's estimation to maintain. Ban handguns and severely restrict malpractive suits to include ACTUAL damages only and we'll see frivolous suits dry right up.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      That's ridiculous. I dated a nurse at a hospital up here in Anchorage. She told me that all of her friends take something to even themselves out, referring to prescription drugs. Shortly thereafter, someone who was like a second mother to me died after complications after a surgery. It really made me wonder if all of the nurses are stoned, how many should be sued...

      April 25, 2012 at 22:13 | Report abuse |
  3. woodie

    Basically, the cure killed him.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Margaret

    Having heart problems and diabetes is a double whammy when having surgery. I have friends with this problem. Sometimes your time is just up no matter how great the medical care. He had a great life, thanks for the memories.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mike

    There are 98,000 deaths caused by medical malpractice each year. That is the equivalent of two jets crashing each day. It's not the fault of the lawyers who seek to hold wrongdoers accountable for the harms they cause.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • the good of the few

      Mike, if lawyers collected flat, reasonable fees for their service and not 30-50% of all recoverable assets, lawyers wouln't always be pushing to collect maximum damages for themselves (not their injured clients) no matter how much damage that does to everyone. Physicians and hospitals don't get hurt by lawsuits. Everyone who pays for medical services and insurance pays for that. Stop hurting everyone else with ridiculous pain and suffering awards when people who are injured should just be fixed. I'm no physician. I'm a regular person who can barely afford my medical insurance and checkups because of malpractice lawyers like you.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
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      September 11, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
  6. CA Liberal

    I remember watching him as a kid on TV. My brother and I used to get up and jump and dance all around the living room imitating the teens on his show. I guess it ws just his time to go. The body is just a machine. Machines wear out and one day something breaks and that's it. Game over. New game. I wish him the best in his new life.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Otto

    "The operation is exceedingly safe" well, maybe for the general population, but probably not for people at Clark's age. I'd like to see the mortality rate for people over 80 having this procedure. I doubt it's less than one in one thousand. But, if it was to correct a painful condition, there probably wasn't much choice.

    April 25, 2012 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nephiaz

      This surgery is done on people who have enlarged prostates–i.e. old people. The 1/1000 mortality rate includes all age groups, and in this case the majority are older than 60. Go find someone over 60 without ANY medical problems, its a hard task. So 1/1000 on a surgery performed mainly on the elderly is a very very safe surgery. Compare that to bypass surgery, which is at 3-5/100 mortality.

      April 25, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
  8. Bill

    Having a urinary blockage is often a sign of an impending stroke or heart attack!

    Clearing the blockage with a catheter is done at the hospital emergency room.
    Then, doctors should immediately look at the patient's heart condition: blood pressure, blockages, etc.
    Because these are often the real cause of the urinary track breakdown.

    Sad, this should not have happened, and they even burned the body to hide the evidence of stupidity.

    April 25, 2012 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bystander

      Really? "Having a urinary blockage is often a sign of an impending stroke or heart attack!", really? Is there a medical literature that supports that statement?

      April 25, 2012 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  9. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    The 'surgery' was to remove Dick Clark's brain and put it into a baby.

    April 25, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. henne

    Where does it say here that anyone is suing, are are you bloggers simply making this up?

    April 25, 2012 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nathaneil

      What a beautiful woman! You can aslomt see her heart by gazing into her gorgeous eyes! & What a tremendous story of Survival! Good luck and God Bless you Tana!

      September 11, 2012 at 07:44 | Report abuse |
  11. American Since 1635

    I used to work as a Urology Tech and have assisted surgeons during TURP's and other procedures. Considering his heart condition Mr. Clark probably should have just done self catheterizaton or had a foley catheter w/ leg bag installed till he was healthy enough to have the operation. (Our Doctors sometimes refused to operate on some individuals that were not in the best of health.) TURP's are typically safe and involve minimal blood loss from the patient but they not the only answer to treating an enlarged prostate.

    April 25, 2012 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. jordan

    This article is so flawed. Already reported is that Clark had a stroke, coronary artery disease, etc. Leading the story with "he died after having prostrate surgery," insinuates that the surgery caused his death. No one knows this. Let's say Grandpa drives to Walmart to buy a groceries and dies of a heart attack later in the evening... Is your headline going to be "Grandfather dies after trip to Walmart"????? Get it together and stop this almost yellow-journalism.

    April 25, 2012 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
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  14. joan

    he was probably on coumadin, a blood thinner, due to the heart condition/strokes. and he probably stopped the coumadin a week prior to the prostate surgery so as to avoid bleeding. therefore, there could have been a clot from not being on the coumadin, that traveled to his heart, causing a heart attack.

    April 27, 2012 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Christian

    Health insurance doesn't over coistemc procedures unless they are life threatening, and even then, there is limited coverage on it.Forms ask for such information, because it is the medical law to ask for those rare cases and it is a standard procedure.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.