Cocaine was a contributing factor to the death by heart disease of TV pitchman Billy Mays, according to a toxicology report released today by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's office in Florida.
The report concluded that the 50-year-old had used cocaine a few days before his death.
Test results also discovered traces of the narcotic painkillers Oxycodone, hydrocodone and tramadol in his bloodstream. Small amounts of Xanax and Valium, as well as alcohol, were also detected.
Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Dr. Vernard Adams confirmed that Mays was taking the prescription painkillers Tramadol and hydrocodone for hip pain, and that pill counts showed he had been taking the correct dosages.
Cocaine can raise the arterial blood pressure, directly thickening the wall of the left ventricle of the heart, accelerating atheriosclerosis or fatty deposits on the artery wall, according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's office.
The Oxy-Clean and Orange Glo pitchman died of a heart attack in his Tampa condo the night of June 27. His wife found him unresponsive the next morning.
A 911 recording captured a distraught woman, presumably Deborah Mays, saying she woke up next to Mays. "I went to roll him over and his lips are all purple," the woman said. "And he's cold."
Before his death, Mays had been a passenger on a US Airways flight from Philadelphia that blew its front tires while landing, causing him to hit his head.
Authorities were skeptical of a connection. "Trying to link Billy Mays' untimely death to the emergency landing of the US Airways flight would purely be speculation," said Laura McElroy of the Tampa Police Department.
Autopsy results soon confirmed that his death was not caused by head trauma but, rather, a heart problem.
The results, available on the same day that authorities released dramatic 911 calls from the family home the night of his death, showed he had an enlarged heart, with officials saying they would perform toxicology tests but that there was "no indication of drug abuse."
Besides his wife, Mays is survived by a 3-year-old daughter and a stepson in his 20s, police said.