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The 3 Health Issues That Led To The Death Of Legendary Singer Luther Vandross At Age 54

The 3 Health Issues That Led To The Death Of Legendary Singer Luther Vandross At Age 54

Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross accepts the Quincy Jones Award for Outstanding Career Achievements at the 13th annual Soul Train Music Awards on March 26, 1999. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The world mourned when legendary singer Luther Vandross died in 2005 at age 54. His death was a result of several combined health problems.

Here are the three health issues that led to the death of the “Dance With My Father” and “A House Is Not A Home” singer.

1. Stroke

Luther Vandross’ death came two years after he had a stroke on April 16, 2003, that left him in a coma for two months, wheelchair-bound and damaged his ability to speak or sing. He also required a tracheotomy.

Doctors who treated Vandross at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in New Jersey before his death said he “never fully recovered” from the stroke, MedPage Today reported.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Black men are 70 percent more likely to die from a stroke than their white counterparts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said a stroke is “sometimes called a brain attack, [and] occurs when something blocks blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.”

2. Diabetes

Vandross also had Type 2 Diabetes, a rampant condition in his family. His father and some of his siblings died from the disease.

The 8-time Grammy winner’s assistant Max Szadek started Divabetic after learning Vandross’ diabetes contributed to him having a stroke – a community dedicated to helping people prevent or manage their diabetes.


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“Two minutes after Luther, who was lying on a gurney, was wheeled into emergency, the doctor came out to tell me that Luther’s stroke could be prevented. I was dumbfounded. Up until that moment, I didn’t know the link between stroke and mismanaged diabetes,” Szadek wrote in a blog post.

The CDC defines diabetes as “a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.”

3. Hypertension

Luther Vandross also suffered from hypertension, defined by the CDC as occurring when your blood pressure is higher than normal. The disease puts one at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.

When Vandross died, many noted his ongoing battle with obesity, as his weight fluctuated between 190 and 340 pounds at various points in his life. Vandross himself admitted he would eat to deal with depression or stress.

“If I’m emotionally distraught, then eating is my coping mechanism,” Vandross told Britain’s Q magazine in 1991. “For what ails me, it seems to be the only thing that takes the edge off the pain.”

Obesity increases the risk of hypertension and other health ailments.

While Vandross left the world much too early by many accounts, his musical legacy endures. May he rest.

PHOTO: Luther Vandross accepts the Quincy Jones Award for Outstanding Career Achievements as Whitney Houston looks on at the 13th annual Soul Train Music Awards, Friday, March 26, 1999, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)