Rich Piana’s Cause of Death – An In-Depth Look

Rich Piana’s Cause of Death shook the bodybuilding community around the world. Rich Piana is my favorite bodybuilder of all time. He inspired me personally and many of us to achieve some of our wildest goals. Touting the “5% KILL IT” and telling us to give everything all we’ve got, and we will reach any goal we set.

I used to watch the “Bigger By The Day” series and used it to get massive, but Rich Piana’s YouTube series was unfortunately cut short when he passed away on August 25th, 2017.

Rich Piana’s Cause of Death has been something very controversial. Some people say it was because of his extreme overtraining. If you have watched any of Rich Piana’s videos you will know this man pushed himself to the limit every, single, day. Let us take a look into many of the different reasons cited for his cause of death, and analyze them all.

Rich Piana inspired us all with his “there’s only such thing as undertraining and undersleeping”, read: You can’t get fit if you don’t work out by CharlesVReview.com.

Rich Piana’s Cause of Death: The Moments Before He Died

Rich Piana was in a medically induced coma for two weeks before he died.

As I said, Rich Piana’s Cause of Death is very controversial and confusing, so please bear with me as I try to explain some of this. There is also not many articles publicated about Rich Piana’s Cause of Death, so I am trying to combine nearly 20+ sources into this article to make it easy for you to understand.

On August 10th, 2017 according to TMZ.com, law enforcement and emergency medical professionals were sent to Rich Piana’s house for a “possible overdose call”. According to AskMen.com, Rich Piana was having his haircut by his girlfriend. An article publicized later on November 14th by TMZ.com also states that Rich Piana was snorting a pre-workout powder called “CON-CRET Pre-Workout Powder” (Read: Everything You Need To Know About Creatine) which seems to have been taken off of the market now. The article also claims it was a high caffeine booster.

Another source at evolutionofbodybuilding.com claims that his girlfriend was instructed to do CPR by the 911 operator, but the CPR was unsuccessful at any short term resuscitation. It is also very important to note that once paramedics arrived on scene, they verified his heart was not functioning correctly, I assume they shocked him into proper rhythm, but brain damage could’ve set in by then. Was it enough time for him to die from the brain damage? I am not sure, and that is still up for debate.

Considering his girlfriend was doing CPR, and paramedics arrived in less than 10 minutes to the house, there is still a high likelihood Rich Piana should’ve survived. Additionally, his heart was functioning incorrectly, not at a dead stop, meaning it is very possible that there was still lots of blood flowing through his body before paramedics arrived. However, this is all speculation.

Additionally, Rich Piana was known for taking many steroids, but was that part of Rich Piana’s Cause of Death? Soon after on August 19th, 2017 Rich Piana’s girlfriend Chanel Jansen said that Richard was still fighting hard and was not dead. However, Piana would soon pass away 6 days later.

However, something very important to note: Rich Piana was placed in a medically induced coma, but why? Let’s take a look.

Rich Piana's Cause of Death may have been from his steroid and supplement use.
Rich Piana’s Cause of Death may have been from his steroid and supplement use.

The Medically Induced Coma

Many do not understand medically induced coma’s and I cannot blame them. They are confusing, why would it ever make sense to put someone into a comatose state and not allow them to be conscious?

A medically induced coma is used very rarely, and as someone in the emergency medical field myself, I cannot even think of a time I have ever came close to even having that as an option for the patient.

A medically induced coma is used to reduce inflammation and swelling in the brain to minimize damage incurred during a medical emergency. According to his autopsy, Rich Piana’s brain was swelling, leading to brain inflammation. He was placed in a medical induced coma to prevent further damage to his brain that was being pressed against his skull. If his brain was swelling, things must’ve been pretty bad.

Rich Piana’s Cause of Death: His Autopsy

You can find a link to his public autopsy at muckrock.com right here, but I will be taking some significant parts of it and analyzing it here.

Autopsy Official Cause of Death:

The autopsy officially says the cause of his death was undetermined. So we to look into the other things in Rich Piana’s life and some of the autopsy.

Brain Swelling – What Caused It?

Something very important to note is that in an article by scmp.com Richard’s girlfriend is quoted as saying that Rich Piana hit his head against a table, but she claims he was unconscious already. Some sources even claim he was having a heart attack at the time.

If Rich Piana had hit his head on the way down, depending on how hard he hit the object and his weight (300 lbs is kind of massive) it is very possible that all of his brain swelling could be from just hitting that table, however it seems unlikely, it is something we must consider.

Rich Piana had some artery blockage, a fatty liver, and some other health complications, but none of them seem particularly ones that would cause death at his age.

Rich Piana’s Cause of Death – Here’s Why It’s a Mystery

Looking at that autopsy presents virtually zero results. While those conditions he had were not good, it’s not uncommon for most 40 year old alcoholics or really the average american to have most of those. Artery blockage, fatty liver, etc are all characteristics of a bad lifestyle. While they lower the life expectancy, a random death at the age range of 40 is not common at all.

While I think the head injury is definitely something noteworthy, and that his heart not beating correctly definitely contributed to possible brain damage, him dying should still be out of the question.

While most look at a medical autopsy and what came before his death, it is time we look into his entire lifestyle before.

Rich Piana’s Steroid Use

For most, people say Rich Piana died because of his massive and large steroid use. This may hold true, as we looked at what happened before he died and nothing was particularly out of order.

Rich Piana has openly admitted to using steroids since 18. We have all heard that steroid use is very bad, but I personally am a believer that steroids aren’t completely horrible.

In my opinion, if you can avoid using steroids, you’re better off avoiding them, but I have never thought steroids could be so deadly. However, something interesting to note is Rich Piana’s changing behavior months before his death.

Shortly before Rich Piana left humanity behind, he was recently divorced, was accused of trying to beatup a mentally challenged person, and got into a fist fight with one of his former buddies. It seemed a lot was going on in his life, and his increasing anger was contributing to it.

According to drugabuse.gov, some side effects of steroids include being paranoid, agressive, delusional, having impaired judgement, and mania. All of these symptoms were found in Rich Piana before his death, and his steroid use did not decrease at all months prior to his medical emergency.

One side effect of using steroids is enlarged organs…

Rich Piana’s Enlarged Organs

Rich Piana had been on many different steroids throughout his life, some gave growth hormones, some were just testosterone supplements.

However, a very common side effect of taking steroids is enlarged organs. Upon death, Rich Piana’s organs were double the size of a normal person. His heart was massive.

While having enlarged organs doesn’t sound like a bad thing, it does have some drawbacks.

According to the MayoClinic, an enlarged heart can lead to possible weird heart rhythms, shortness of breath, and edemas. In english, it can lead to heart attacks or blockage down the road. However, symptoms may not present for a long time.

This does in a while make sense, if the heart has to pump out so much blood, it is under way more stress than a normal body’s heart. Especially considering Rich Piana’s massive size at 300lbs, it would not be uncommon for his heart to have a weird rhythm.

Rich Piana’s Caffeine Use

Rich Piana had a huge history of drinking tons of caffeine before and after his workouts. Infact, in one of his videos I remember him drinking nearly 300mg of caffeine in just his pre-workout shake. He had developed a very high tolerance to the drug.

This ties into his enlarged heart. Caffeine works by speeding up your heart rate, and if his heart was already enlarged, adding tons of drugs will not help. This may have contributed to some of his health problems, and his collapse.

Rich Piana's Cause of Death may have been due to his high caffeine use.
Rich Piana’s Cause of Death may have been due to his high caffeine use.

Rich Piana’s Overtraining

While Rich Piana was a big advocate that there was no such thing as overtraining, and I myself am a big advocate of that. I think Rich Piana was overtraining, he worked out for nearly 4 hours a day minimum, and would often stay in that gym all day sometimes. Including his famous 8 hour arm workouts. With his enlarged heart and caffeine use, it may have contributed to more stress on his body to perform constantly.

Rich Piana's Cause of Death may have been overtraining
Rich Piana’s Cause of Death may have been overtraining

Why Rich Piana’s Death was NOT Insulin

Some sources have claimed recently that Rich Piana’s insulin use was the cause of his death.

I however refute that claim and see it as incorrect. While his use of insulin did not help, many of these sources were made when incorrect information was still out in public.

For instance, one source claims that he landed in his coma because of him not eating enough sugar after taking some insulin. The only problem is, he was medically induced into a coma, he was not in a coma to begin with. Which makes many of these sources invalid. Additionally, many insulin users know when they need to eat sugar or take more insulin based on their mood, and I don’t think Richard was any different.

Conclusion

Throughout all of this, his death is still controversial.

I personally think throughout all of this what happened is:

Rich Piana’s heart started to have some complications after he ingested that pre-workout, tipping him over his caffeine limit for the day. After that happened, he collapsed and hit his head on the table very hard, starting swelling within his brain. Due to his head hitting the brain damage started earlier and he had less time to survive compared to a normal person, and when brought to the hospital it was too late.

I think if Rich Piana had avoided hitting his head on the way down, he may still be with us today. I personally think his steroid use contributed to him collapsing, but at the end of the day, I think that specific event of him hitting his head that hard was the big thing that sent my favorite bodybuilder to heaven.

Lift heavy and in peace, Richard.

About the author

Vigilant

Vigilant is an author extremely dedicated to his blog. From a hard life of growing up paycheck to paycheck, he somehow took advantage of the opportunity to make himself a stronger person and pushed through to keep on pursuing his career an Emergency Medicine doctor, is currently training to be a firefighter, wrestles, and lifts 2 hours a day all with a full-time job and in college. Learn more about Vigilant and the "mustang gang" here at the About Me section.

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