Carrie Fisher had traces of cocaine, heroin and other drugs in her system when she died, according to an autopsy report released Monday by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. But it’s unclear what significance those drugs had in causing her death.
The fuller report follows a statement from the coroner’s office Friday that Fisher died of sleep apnea and other factors, and that although she showed signs of taking multiple drugs, her official cause of death would be listed as undetermined.
Atherosclerotic heart disease was also noted in the autopsy report. Fisher, 60, “suffered what appeared to be a cardiac arrest on the airplane, accompanied by vomiting and with a history of sleep apnea,” reads the report released Monday.
Evidence suggests Fisher may have been exposed to cocaine three days before she boarded an international flight Dec. 23, 2016, according to the report. She went into cardiac arrest on the plane and died four days later.
Fisher was also exposed to heroin, morphine, methadone and meperidine, as well as ecstasy (MDMA), but it’s unclear when she may have taken those drugs, according to the coroner’s report.
“Based on the available toxicology information, we cannot establish the significance of the multiple substances that were determined in Ms. Fisher’s blood and tissue, with regard to her cause of death,” reads the report.
Sleep apnea is when a person’s breathing repeatedly pauses while sleeping, sometimes for a few seconds or even minutes. The chronic condition can increase the risk of heart attack and heart failure.
According to the autopsy, Fisher’s personal assistant reported the actress had slept on the flight and had “multiple apneic episodes,” which wasn’t uncommon for her, but toward the end of the international flight, she couldn’t be awakened.
Fisher had long been open about her struggles with mental illness and addiction, and became an advocate for removing stigmas. She told Diane Sawyer in 2000 that doctors diagnosed her with mania when she was in her mid-20s. “I thought they told me I was manic depressive to make me feel better about being a drug addict,” Fisher said.
“I am mentally ill. I can say that,” Fisher told Sawyer. “I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.”
After initial details about Fisher’s cause of death came out Friday, Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, said her mother was “purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases.”
“My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it,” Lourd said in a statement to People.
Lourd continued: “I know my mom, she’d want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles. Seek help, fight for government funding for mental health programs. Shame and those social stigmas are the enemies of progress to solutions and ultimately a cure.”