(NEXSTAR) – Comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried’s cause of death was revealed to be recurrent ventricular tachycardia, according to friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz.
Gottfried, 67, died earlier this week after a battle with a “long illness,” his family said on Tuesday. Schwartz later specified Gottfried’s cause of death as recurrent ventricular tachycardia, a condition caused by a rare type of muscular dystrophy.
“Beloved and iconic comedian Gilbert Gottfried passed away at 2:35 p.m. ET on April 12, 2022 from Recurrent Ventricular Tachycardia due to Myotonic Dystrophy type II,” Schwartz shared in an emailed statement provided to Nexstar.
Myotonic dystrophy type 2 (or type II) is considered a rare disease characterized by “progressive muscle wasting and weakness,” according to the National Institutes of Health. An inherited condition, Myotonic dystrophy type 2 usually develops in a patient’s 20s or 30s, and is said to be less severe than myotonic dystrophy type 1, which can be present at birth and is generally associated with a shortened lifespan.
Those with myotonic dystrophy type 2 may experience muscle pain, weakness, prolonged muscle contractions, and slurred speech, among other symptoms. A less common symptom is “abnormalities of the electrical signals that control the heartbeat (cardiac conduction defects),” the NIH writes.
Ventricular tachycardia, meanwhile, is a type of arrhythmia marked by “irregular electrical signals in the lower chambers of the heart,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Patients with ventricular tachycardia may experience heart rates of over 100 beats per minute, and can experience episodes of lightheadedness or shortness of breath. In severe cases, it may lead to loss of consciousness or cardiac arrest.
Both emergency and non-emergency forms of treatment for ventricular tachycardia are available: the former includes CPR, defibrillation, and medication, while the latter includes medication, implantable defibrillator devices, or a procedure known as catheter ablation, which destroys the bit of muscle tissue responsible for the arrhythmia, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Schwartz did not say when Gottfried was diagnosed with either condition.
“Gilbert’s brand of humor was brash, shocking and frequently offensive, but the man behind the jokes was anything but,” said Frank Santopadre, the co-host of Gottfried’s “Amazing Colossal Podcast,” in a statement shared to Nexstar by Schwartz. “Those who loved and him were fortunate enough to share his orbit knew a person who was sweet, sensitive, surprisingly shy and filled with a childlike sense of playfulness and wonder. He’ll be dearly missed by family, friends, fans and comedy lovers the world over. To quote Gilbert himself, ‘Too soon!’”